The Brady Campaign’s recent report that the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has “stopped more than 2.1 million would-be gun purchases” sure sounds impressive – only it isn’t true.
The fact is the vast majority of the 2.1 million people flagged by NICS are either legitimate purchasers who are snagged by mistake, or criminals who are then turned loose to obtain firearms elsewhere, rather than being prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
For example, in 2010, only 62 out of 72,659 NICS denials led to prosecutions by the federal government – and only 13 of those prosecutions resulted in a conviction. That’s .0001 percent.
According to Vice-President Joe Biden, the reason for the Obama administration’s near-total lack of enforcement is that “we simply don’t have the time or the manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately.” If that’s the case, then what’s the point of the check? Does the administration think a determined criminal will give up a life of crime after a NICS denial?
Moreover, the Brady Campaign is being intentionally deceitful by claiming “40 percent” of gun purchases are conducted without a background check. You won’t read this in their misleading report, but even the notoriously anti-gun Washington Post debunked their “40 percent” whopper, giving it a rating of “3 Pinocchios” for dishonesty. That’s because this statistic comes from a 251-person survey conducted nearly two decades ago, in which more than three-quarters of the firearm sales covered in the survey occurred before background checks were mandated by federal law.
The most recent Department of Justice survey of 1,402 convicted criminals found that nearly 90 percent of them got their guns from sources including theft, straw purchases, family, friends, and the black market. None of these would have been blocked by NICS.
If the Brady Campaign truly wanted to keep guns out of the wrong hands, it would challenge Biden and the Obama administration on their admitted refusal to prosecute those they know may be attempting to purchase a firearm illegally. Instead, they’re renewing their push for Obama’s so-called “universal background checks” scheme, which has more to do with registering and criminalizing lawful transfers than reducing violent crime.
But that’s the point. The Brady Campaign’s clear goal is to harass law-abiding gun owners and manufacture public shame toward anyone who exercises their Second Amendment rights. They can try by hook or by crook, but the National Rifle Association won’t them get away with it.
Chris W. Cox is the Executive Director of the National Rifle Association Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) and serves as the organization’s chief lobbyist.