How many bad guys do you think try to buy guns from licensed dealers, the retailers whom Congress wants to slap with further restrictions on instant verifications for gun sales? How many criminals are getting access to their guns via “traditional,” on-the-grid avenues, initiating transactions that route them through background checks designed to ensure those very creeps aren’t the ones who can get their hands on firearms?
One-fourth? Ten percent? Five?
Try less than 1 percent. In fact, it’s less than half of 1 percent. Since 1998, there have been 590,070 attempts by convicts — guilty of both felonies and misdemeanors — to buy firearms from gun dealers who must check their criminal past on the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check (NICS) system. That’s out a total of 167,488,942 background checks done on all gun sales for the same period.
Both sets of figures come straight from the FBI. Hat tip to CNS News for doing a little arithmetic: Those 590,070 convicts who tried to buy a gun through legitimate means represent a mere .35 percent of all gun-buy attempts over the past 14 years.
Senate Democrats busied themselves Wednesday trying to scrounge up enough votes to move ahead with an amendment to the laughably-titled Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act, one that would close the so-called “gun show loophole” by mandating background checks on firearms transactions between private individuals.
They lost, with the amendment failing to pass in a 54-46 vote. Without the amendment’s approval, the whole Act’s chances of making it through the early days of the Democrat-controlled 113th Congress likely will be sunk.
Complicating matters more for supporters of the Gun Grab Act was the introduction of an “alternative” gun control bill Wednesday by Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas). That bill may have its critics, once pundits from the right and left have a chance to pore through its language; but a rundown of the bill’s highlights indicates, at least in spirit, a piece of legislation written with the understanding that criminals, by definition, can’t be touched by draconian gun laws that serve only to restrict the rights of law-abiding citizens.
Highlights of the Grassley-Cruz bill include:
- No expansion of the existing NICS background check system.
- Creating a task force to prosecute those who fail criminal background checks when attempting to buy guns.
- Requiring the U.S. Department of Justice to report to Congress periodically on its prosecution of those who attempt to buy guns illegally.
- Making third-party “straw purchase” trafficking illegal.
For the most part, the bill looks, at first glance, to target government and law enforcement agencies already tasked with enforcing existing laws instead of going after individual citizens with expanded Federal restrictions. Cruz couched the bill just so at a Wednesday morning press conference:
Rather than restricting the rights of law-abiding Americans, we should be focusing on keeping guns out of the hands of violent criminals, which this legislation accomplishes. While the Obama Administration continues to politicize a terrible tragedy to push its anti-gun agenda, I am proud to stand beside my fellow senators to present common-sense measures that will increase criminal prosecutions of felons who try to buy guns, criminalize straw purchasing and gun trafficking, and address mental health issues.
Sounds fair. But these bills have a way of coming out of committee — if they get off the ground at all — looking far different than they did going in, and Cruz may yet be criticized for introducing any “alternative” that even smells like gun control — regardless of its publicity value — when simple opposition to the Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act would have served the original 2nd Amendment very well.
The Grassley-Cruz amendment was up for a Senate vote late Wednesday, so stay tuned.
UPDATE: The Senate defeated the Grassley-Cruz amendment in a 52-48 vote late Wednesday, as well as a ban on “straw trafficking” by a 58-42 margin.