February 15, 2013
By Jeff Knox
(PHOENIX, February 7) In an open letter addressed to Congress and the American people, a recently formed coalition of groups supporting gun rights declared their opposition to any new legislation or regulations which would encroach on citizens' rights to keep and bear arms. The letter began with the following declaration:
"The undersigned members of the National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban, representing some 37 national, state, and local organizations and millions of individual rights advocates, unequivocally oppose any infringement on the Right to Keep and Bear Arms. Specifically, we oppose any effort to insinuate government controls on private transfers of personal firearms between law-abiding individuals."
The letter went on to express the group's horror and outrage at recent atrocities and the subsequent attacks on the Second Amendment, then presented arguments against proposals that would require private firearm sales and transfers to go through a government approval process. It pointed out that "universal background checks," while sounding benign and reasonable in sound-bytes, would be expensive, complicated, and fraught with pitfalls in reality. The group contends that as Americans — particularly gun owners — begin to understand this reality, they will agree that these proposals are misguided and unconstitutional. The group promises coordinated political action against any politician or public figure supporting these proposals.
The basic arguments put forward in the letter are that:
1. Background Checks Don't Impede Criminals.
Criminals obtain guns through illicit means such as theft and by having friends and associates with clean criminal records purchase guns for them, while rampage killers often have no criminal or serious mental health record to impede them. The Newtown Connecticut murderer was the only recent rampage killer who didn't pass a background check to obtain his weapons — stealing his and murdering the legal owner — and none of them obtained guns from private sellers.
2. Injecting Government into Private Transactions is Unproductive and Dangerous.
Purchasing a firearm from a licensed dealer is the only exercise of an enumerated constitutional right which requires government permission. Every time a person purchases a gun through a licensed dealer, they are investigated by the government, even if they already own dozens of firearms, and even if they have just purchased a firearm in the previous month, week, or day. The infrastructure for these redundant checks costs taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars every year, and adding private transactions into the mix would cost millions more.
Money which could be much better spent on programs that have been proven to actually reduce crime. There has never been a study produced demonstrating a significant reduction in crime due to the background check system.
The current load on the background check system from dealers is often overwhelming, causing long delays and system shutdowns. Including private transactions in the process would exacerbate those problems and could result in a complete stoppage of all legal sales as easily as flipping a switch. These checks also provide the foundation for a federal firearm registration scheme — something tens of millions of responsible gun owners vehemently oppose. Registration in New York State recently resulted in hundreds of gun owners being placed at risk when a newspaper published names and addresses garnered from registration files. Several of those gun owners were subsequently burglarized.
3. Compromise on Background Checks is a Losing Proposition.
There is no gain for politicians, firearms retailers, or the public in any compromise on firearm rights, and the proposals for "universal background checks" are no exception. Few politicians have ever been harmed politically for opposing gun control, but support for gun control has ruined the careers of hundreds.
The backlash from passage of the Clinton "assault weapon ban" alone was credited with retiring almost half of the House of Representatives and numerous members of the Senate. No firearm manufacturer or retailer has had their business significantly hurt by being supportive of firearm owner rights, but the few who have made concessions to gun control advocates have paid a hefty price.
4. Don't Just Do Something; Do Something That Works.
Politicians can make a significant impact on crime and rampage killings by focusing on strategies that have been proven to work like keeping violent criminals behind bars and doing away with imaginary Gun-Free Zones.
The letter concludes by declaring that restricting lawful access and use of guns will never deny illicit access and use of guns, and by putting politicians and others on notice that the group's members will actively work to defend the Second Amendment against any encroachment and will exact a political or monetary toll on any who stand against them.
The organization that my brother and I operate, The Firearms Coalition, is proud to be aligned with the National Coalition to Stop the Gun Ban, and we invite all like-minded lovers of liberty to join us in this battle for our rights. You can learn more at www.FirearmsCoalition.org.