Why Universal Background Checks Would Have Failed In Odessa

The Odessa shooting looked like a moment for gun control that they’ve been waiting for, a chance to prove that universal background checks could stop a mass shooting. After all, the killer had been barred from buying a gun already and purchased his AR-15 via a face-to-face transfer, something that would become illegal under a universal background check law.


However, the more we now know more about the gunman and how he got his weapon.

Authorities in Texas have identified a person suspected of illegally manufacturing a rifle and selling it to the man who allegedly killed seven people and wounded more than 20 others in West Texas last Saturday, a report said.

Law-enforcement authorities believe the man lives in Lubbock, Texas, but his identity was not released, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Authorities believe the man was illegally buying parts to guns, assembling a single firearm and then reselling it, the Journal reported.

[Emphasis added]

In other words, the seller was allegedly breaking the law to assemble parts into working firearms. He was reportedly already breaking the law.

While anti-gunners wring their hands and plot how to use this vicious and deadly attack to create more gun control, we find that one kind of gun control already failed in this case. A man who built guns expressly for selling them regardless of the law isn’t someone you can just assume would follow some other arbitrary law. You can’t expect them to say, “I’ve been ignoring this other gun law, but this time they really mean it.”

That’s not how it works. Once someone crosses that line, you can no longer assume they’ll comply with your next law. Especially if they’re building guns for money. After all, then their illegal activities are too easy to track.

So what would have happened if this law had been on the books before Odessa?

Most likely, nothing. Nothing at all.

The seller would still likely have been willing to sell his firearm. The buyer would have still bought the firearm. Since the gun was illegally manufactured, there’s no reason to believe a law requiring a background check would have been followed here either.


The shooter would have still gotten a gun.

Meanwhile, law-abiding citizens who wanted to loan a gun to a friend interested in taking up three-gun competition or even just plinking for a day or two would be required to transfer the gun through an FFL, effectively giving ownership of the gun to the friend.

As per usual, those inclined to break the law would continue to break the law, while the law-abiding citizens of the country would be the ones carrying the burden of the new law. That’s how it’s always been and how it’s always going to be.

Now, though, we see the one example of a mass shooting that might have been averted by universal background checks turn out to be nothing of the sort. The seller was allegedly breaking the law in the first place, so there’s no reason to assume he’d have followed yet another law. He’d have still gotten a gun, still killed seven people and wounded many more. Nothing would have changed so far as the attack itself.

Nothing at all.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member