Cam Edwards

Bad News For “Universal” Background Check Supporters

kennedylewisterrorwatchlistHave you noticed that all the hot takes about the supposed need for more gun control have something in common? Whether it’s a call to limit gun ownership to two firearms or a desire to ban firearms completely, America’s anti-gun pundits have no shortage of different “solutions” they’d like to see turned into laws. But not many of them seem particularly eager to talk about what it would take to actually enforce those laws, or maybe they haven’t even considered that aspect of legislation. All we have to do is a pass a law, apparently. Enforcement is optional.

In the real world, of course, it doesn’t work that way. Now, even some gun control advocates are having to reluctantly accept the fact that passing a gun control law doesn’t automatically lead to less crime. Recently, anti-gun researcher Garen Wintemute took a look at “universal” background check laws in Washington, Colorado and Delaware. All three states passed similar laws in 2013, and Wintemute wanted to see if the laws had led to an increase in the number of background checks. As it turns out, the answer was “no,” at least for Washington and Colorado. Universal background check laws clearly don’t lead to universal background checks for every transfer of a firearm. Gun owners know this, and we’ve tried to point this out to anti-gun activists on many occasions, but they needed to see the science. Now they have.

Wintemute and others are now trying to claim that the problem with the “universal” background check laws can be fixed with “more assertive enforcement.” Yet the study’s authors can’t really point to more assertive enforcement in Delaware, even though it did see an increase in background checks for both handguns and long guns. What would “more assertive enforcement” look like, anyway? It’s a pretty imprecise phrase for a man of science like Wintemute to throw around without offering up specific examples.   Continue reading


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