Universal Background Checks: The Review

Universal Background Checks: The Review

This is a great, thorough review on the effectiveness of universal background checks, specifically on murder rates since that is supposed to be the goal. Clayton E. Cramer, a history professor at the College of Western Idaho, published it back in April. You can access the paper in its entirety here. I HIGHLY recommend reading it. Below are the main features from the source link article (emphasis mine):

“…there are at least thirteen states that have had, for some years, some sort of mandatory background check for firearms transfers.

Six states require them for all private party transfers of firearms: California, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. Six more states have, for many years, required them for all handgun transfers: Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania…four adopted them before 1960, so the relatively consistent murder rate data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports program can’t be used to test the hypothesis. Of the remaining eight, changes in murder rates are only statistically significant (at the 95% confidence interval) for five: three had an increase in murder rates after adopting mandatory background checks, two had a decrease in murder rates.

Here’s a harsh truth: people that commit murder are not ordinary Americans, and do not obey laws. As the director of the National Institute of Justice recently observed in a leaked memo to the White House, a 2000 study found that 26% of criminal guns were stolen (often from retail stores or in transit), and 8% were the result of retail diversion by corrupt dealers. None of these criminal transactions will be affected by a background check law.

Regarding the recent high-profile tragedies at Newtown, Aurora, Tucson, and at the Clackamas mall in Oregon: Newtown and Clackamas mall involved stolen guns from lawful owners, so a background check is irrelevant. “

Your temperature on the universal background check may vary. But the most important (and best statement from the article IMHO) with regards to pressing forward in the universal background checks debate is this:

“It is not enough to feel that this will make a difference; we need to make evidence-based decisions about what laws to pass. Those who refuse to do math are doomed to talk nonsense.”

A shining example of reason in a world of irrationality.

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