By: José Niño
The FBI is about to add 400 million new records to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) – otherwise known as the Brady Registration System.
The rationale behind this move is that it will help streamline NICS’s screening process.
Gun control apologists claim these additional records would have prevented Dylann Roof from committing the Charleston church massacre in 2015.
Since the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas, shootings, politicians have clamored for tighter background checks.
The political establishment received their wish when Fix-NICS was signed into law—the most far-reaching gun control legislation passed at the federal level since the Brady Act was enacted in 1993.
For many radical anti-gunners, however, Fix-NICS was not enough.
Regardless, the DC Swamp has opened a Pandora’s Box of gun control, and it’s anyone’s guess how the political class will use the NICS expansion to infringe on gun rights.
The addition of 400 million records to FBI databases is a silver lining for the anti-gun crowd, as it can function as a springboard for future anti-gun projects if gun controllers assume power in the near future.
If you’re a wise gun owner, there is reason to be worried.
Regardless of the political implications, expanding background checks is not an effective policy in combatting crime.
Extensive research from John Lott has shown expanding background checks doesn’t do much to reduce crime. In his first notable work, More Gun Less Crime, Lott found little evidence on background checks having any type of effect in reducing crime. In fact, Lott explains how crime rates were plummeting in 1991, well before NICS came into effect in 1998.
Alas, the anti-gunners don’t care about facts.
When they couldn’t get further restrictions at the federal level, the gun controllers trotted out universal background checks (UBCs)—background checks on guns purchased from a dealer and guns acquired from private transfers—at the state level.
Just like its NICS counterpart at the federal level, Lott could not find evidence that UBCs had any impact on lowering crime. Instead, Lott’s studies demonstrated that UBCs function as an effective tax on gun ownership, disproportionately hitting less affluent minorities in crime-ridden urban areas.
As if it weren’t bad enough, NICS already produces false positives that mixes and matches law-abiding citizens’ records with actual criminals. In effect, countless law-abiding citizens are barred from exercising their gun rights due to bureaucratic technicalities.
Most alarming is the rate of initial NICS denials that turn out as false positives. Some estimates from the Crime Prevention Research Center indicate that in 2009 alone, 93 percent of initial NICS denials were false positives.
Enlarging the scope of background checks will only bring even more problems.
Astute observers of politics will recognize that when government bureaucracies grow they only become more tyrannical and detached from the public.
In his essay Planning and Freedom, economist Ludwig von Mises provides an accurate assessment of how bureaucracies operate:
“Seen from the point of view of the particular group interests of the bureaucrats, every measure that makes the government's payroll swell is progress.”
Unlike normal institutions that operate under free-market conditions, when bureaucracies fail, they receive more power and cushier benefits. Consequently, bureaucrats could not care less about serving the public interest.
If the political class continues to maintain these databases, there is no telling what type of government abuse is in store for gun owners further down the line.
Establishment GOP gatekeepers will try to soothe skeptics by saying the background checks are limited in nature. But what’s to stop anti-gun Democrats from using these same systems to persecute gun owners once they take power?
With the bureaucratic keys to the ignition, the left will most assuredly put gun rights in their crosshairs.
To think otherwise is sheer naiveté. It’s time for gun-friendly policymakers to start thinking about the long-term consequences of their policies once they leave office.
We simply cannot allow myopic politicians to continue leaving our right to self-defense to the mercy of aspiring gun controllers.
José Niño is a Venezuelan-American political activist based in Fort Collins, Colorado.