Thank goodness President Donald Trump has had second thoughts about the stampede to adopt universal background checks for firearms purchases. He calls the checks a “slippery slope.”
Indeed, they are. Under such a system, all transfers, even gifts among friends and family, must go through a federally licensed gun dealer, with the attendant fees, forms, paperwork and delays, and what do we do if dealers refuse to handle private sales?
Twenty-one states and Washington, D.C., have extended the background check requirement beyond federal requirements to include at least some private sales. California is one of those states. A University of California, Davis, study of gun homicide and suicide rates in the decade since the state passed comprehensive background check reform found no change in either kind of death rate.
Why? Researchers point to incomplete records and lack of compliance as possible explanations. Does anybody really believe it would work any better at the federal level?
It is difficult to understand what those pushing such measures do not get. A universal system would be anything but universal and require registration of each and every gun in the country to be effective and affect only law-abiding citizens. A Justice Department study concluded 40 percent of armed criminals obtain guns on the streets; another 40 percent from family or friends. Fewer than 2 percent get them from flea markets or gun shows.
Moreover, such a system would not stop the mentally ill from obtaining guns because privacy concerns make them almost invisible to background checks. And it would have little-to-no effect on suicides, which account for about 60 percent of all adult firearms deaths.
Universal background checks are not the be-all, end-all that anti-gun factions would have us believe. They are, in fact, another flim-flam by anti-gun forces to get their toe further in the door.
They are exactly what Trump said they are: A slippery slope.