Costs, benefits, and background checks

Posted on April 5, 2013

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Universal background checks for gun purchases are an attempt to address a legitimate problem: It really is easy for criminals to get guns, and it really is hard to prosecute those who sell guns to criminals. While licensed gun dealers are required to perform background checks and maintain records, private citizens may sell their guns without so much as asking a question. To prosecute a citizen for an illegal sale, the government must prove that the citizen knowingly gave a gun to a criminal or bought a gun for the sole purpose of transferring it to another party. In surveys, a large percentage of criminals report procuring guns through friends, family, and other private sources, yet these suppliers rarely face charges.
But the fact that the problem is real does not mean this proposed solution would be helpful. Universal checks might be an inherently unworkable idea. And a universal-check policy capable of passing the current Congress will certainly not do much good. It is time for legislators to direct their efforts elsewhere.

Read the article: The National Review

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