Dr. John Lott has a new op-ed in the Las Vegas Review-Journal on Bloomberg’s initiative requiring background checks on the private transfer of guns.
Let’s say a stalker is threatening a female friend of yours. She asks you if she can borrow your handgun. She is trained and has no criminal record. Should you loan her your gun?
If you live in Nevada, doing so may soon land you in jail.
And forget about Boy Scout shooting trips, on which adults lend troops shotguns and rifles so that the scouts can earn their firearm merit badges. Stick with this annual ritual, and those adult leaders may soon find themselves facing criminal charges.
Those are just a couple of the hidden consequences if Nevada voters pass Question 1.
Everyone wants to keep criminals from getting guns. But the current background check system is a mess. It primarily disarms our most vulnerable citizens, particularly law-abiding minorities.
Gun-control advocates claim that nationwide background checks have stopped 2.4 million prohibited people from buying a gun. But what they should really say is that there were 2.4 million “initial denials.” And more than 96 percent of “initial denials” are errors that are dropped during just the first two stages of review. More cases are dropped later.
That massive error rate occurs because government background checks focus on only two pieces of information: names and birth dates, ignoring Social Security numbers and addresses. The government looks for phonetically similar names and even ignores different middle names.
These mistakes affect certain racial groups more than others. Hispanics are more likely to share names with other Hispanics; the same is true of blacks. Because 30 percent of black males are forbidden from buying guns due to their criminal records, law-abiding African-American men more often have their names confused with those of prohibited people.
The problem could be easily fixed if the government simply did what it requires of private companies. When businesses perform criminal background checks on employees, they have to use all of the information that is already available to the government: name, Social Security number, address and birthdate. . . . .
The rest of the piece is available here.