No, Gabby, Universal Background Checks Won't Do Anything

AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords isn’t a fan of guns. She was at one time when it could benefit her politically. Now, she advocates for things like universal background checks, assault weapon bans, and a host of other bits of gun control.

A recent op-ed written by her has the title, “Universal background checks will save lives in Philadelphia.”

In 2013, I stood next to then-Vice President Joe Biden and then-President Barack Obama in the White House Rose Garden after the Senate failed to pass background checks legislation championed by Sen. Pat Toomey and others on a bipartisan basis after Sandy Hook. In the years since, nearly 40,000 lives have been lost to gun violence every single year — that’s more than 300,000 Americans dead. Meanwhile, Congress has failed to pass a single significant gun violence prevention bill.

Today my organization, Giffords, is installing 1,700 vases at Independence Mall to memorialize the 1,700 Pennsylvanians who lost their lives to gun violence last year. I was grateful to Sen. Bob Casey for joining me at the dedication. Every senator in every state should be telling their constituents what they’re going to do to address rising rates of gun violence. Instead, Senate Republicans continue to block progress, even as gun violence surges across the country.

While some Republicans, like Sen. Toomey, have supported universal background checks, most of those elected Republicans fail to represent the Americans who vote as Republicans, as well as independents and Democrats, who widely support universal background checks.

A vote for background checks shouldn’t have to be courageous. More than 90% of “ticket splitter” American voters (like Pennsylvanians) support universal background checks, including the majority of Democrats, Republicans, independents, and gun owners. Giffords organizes responsible gun owners who support commonsense solutions that respect Second Amendment rights. We recently ran a series on our blog, “The NRA Doesn’t Speak for Me,” highlighting some of their voices.

Except, a lot of gun owners and Second Amendment advocates oppose universal background checks for a number of reasons, reasons Giffords does nothing to address, instead trying to engage in a bandwagon fallacy.

The supposed popularity of universal background checks isn’t even that firm. Despite Giffords’ claims, when such background checks make it onto people’s ballots, they don’t win by such huge margins…if they win at all. That’s not necessarily guaranteed.

That’s because it’s easy to support the concept of something–that people should have to get a background check when buying a gun–and another to find out that even loaning a gun could be criminal.

And yet, despite that, universal background checks have minimal impact on criminals obtaining firearms.

See, while a handful may well purchase a gun from a law-abiding person who believes their conducting a lawful face-to-face transfer with another law-abiding citizen, that’s not how most criminals get their guns.

No, they buy them from black market sellers; usually someone who stole the guns in the first place, but is now off-loading them for cash. Guess what these guys don’t do?

If you said, “conduct background checks,” then give yourself a price.

Giffords doesn’t address this in her op-ed. Most anti-Second Amendment advocates don’t. They fail to tell us how universal background checks would actually keep guns out of criminal hands.

That’s because they genuinely don’t know what they’re talking about. As per usual.