In the gun grabbing community there is one rule which seems to be an absolute physical law of the liberal universe when it comes to tragic, mass shooting events; never let a good tragedy go to waste. In the wake of Dylan Roof’s hateful rampage in Charleston last month, that maxim is in full effect already. Earlier this week, Congressman James Clyburn introduced yet another gun control bill while invoking the tragedy, which aims to close the “loophole” in background check rules which “allowed” Roof to get his weapon. (From Business Insider)
A Democratic congressman has introduced a bill that aims to tighten regulations on gun purchases, in the wake of the church shooting last month in Charleston, South Carolina…
Rep. James Clyburn’s (D-South Carolina) bill aims to end the “default proceed” rule. The rule currently allows federally licensed firearms dealers who have initiated a background check to sell the firearm if they have not been notified by the FBI within three business days whether or not the sale of a firearm to a certain individual would violate federal laws…
US Senators Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Connecticut) have also pressed for a similar measure in the wake of the shooting. But they urged the Obama administration to close the loophole through executive action.
I suppose that sounds wonderful if you’re a gun control advocate. Everyone loves closing a good loophole, right? And think of the children! Unfortunately for Clyburn and his allies, the “loophole” they are seeking to close doesn’t actually exist. Let’s remember for a moment that Roof went and applied to purchase a weapon through the normal channels. While he was doing so, there was a case pending against him on unrelated charges, including a drug bust. If the NICS system had been given access to all of the pertinent information, the Federal Firearms License (FFL) holder would not have completed the transaction and Roof would not have been able to legally obtain a gun. But a clerk had entered some of the information about his recent bust incorrectly so that didn’t show up in the background check.
Before proceeding, let’s allow the NRA-ILA to explain just how this works and why the situation with Roof doesn’t speak to the current National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) was designed to be just that: instant. Recognizing, however, that some determinations might require additional research to resolve authoritatively, the law states that if an immediate answer is not available, the transfer must be put on hold for three business days to give the FBI more time to research the matter.
After the three days, the FFL has the option to release the firearm to the buyer or transferee, so long as the FFL has no other reason to believe the person is prohibited from possessing it. The FBI will then continue trying to resolve the case for up to 90 days. If it turns out the recipient is determined to be prohibited, the FBI queries the dealer to see if the firearm was transferred. If so, the FBI notifies the BATFE, so appropriate action can be taken (for example, confiscation of the firearm and prosecution of the illegal possessor, if appropriate).
In short, even if it takes the system longer than three days to find the needle in the haystack, the system isn’t done. Unless the purchaser runs out and uses the weapon that same day to commit the crime (which Roof did not, by the way) the current system can still catch them up and does in nearly 100% of applications. (There’s an argument to be made that it catches up far too many people, in fact, on rather flimsy excuses, but that’s a debate for another column.) If Roof’s information was in there correctly and the FBI found it any time in the next 90 days they still would have contacted the FFL, sought out Roof and taken away his gun.
The problem here wasn’t that the system didn’t work. The problem was incompetence by a government employee. It was a serious case of incompetence to be sure, and the results went to a horrible, worst case scenario, but that doesn’t change the root cause. Changing the three day window wasn’t going to stop Dylan Roof. All it will do is open the door to endless loops of questions and challenges which will prevent many legitimate, responsible purchasers from obtaining a weapon under current laws.
Clyburn claims to be looking to close a loophole here. If you can find a loophole to close which eliminates bureaucratic incompetence, sign me up. I’ll be lobbying for that bad boy all the live long day. But this bill does no such thing and should be rejected.