'Baby Brady' Doesn't Work Either
by Ari Armstrong, August 10, 2000
By now, we all know the Brady background-registration gun law has failed to reduce homicides, a fact reported widely in the media based on a recent article in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
So now that the Brady law is widely recognized as a failure, we should expand the policy, right? That's what the anti-gun lobby and many Colorado politicians want us to believe.
In fact, the petition initiative by Sane Alternatives to the Firearms Epidemic, the name of which likens gun ownership to a disease, is an attempt to expand the failed Brady system to private sales at gun shows.
Why has the Brady law failed? Criminals don't obey gun laws. They don't obey the 22,000 plus gun laws on the books, and the next gun law won't stop them, either. Criminals merely resort to theft and the black market to get their guns.
However, background checks are effective at stopping honest people from purchasing a gun for self-defense. Because of faulty and incomplete records, the national Brady check wrongfully denies many thousands of people their rights of self-defense. Thanks to the Colorado legislature and administrative pressure, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation wrongfully denies even more Coloradans their rights than does the national system. The Colorado Bureau of Investigation vetoes gun purchases simply because a person has been arrested, even if CBI has no information showing that there was ever a criminal conviction. In fact, the overwhelming majority of CBI denials are for arrests, not convictions.
Women in particular are disadvantaged by "victim disarmament" laws such as Brady and its more repressive Colorado version. As Yale law professor John Lott reports in More Guns, Less Crime, "No statistically significant evidence has appeared that the Brady law has reduced crime." Instead, the Brady Act caused a 3.6% rise in rape, and a 2.5% rise in aggravated assaults against women.
Men and women who are wrongfully denied their right to purchase a gun for self-defense must then prove themselves innocent to the CBI. Unfortunately, stalkers and rapists don't wait around to attack their victims until the CBI and FBI can sort through the paperwork.
The S.A.F.E. background check petition would only make it more difficult and more expensive for honest people to defend themselves.
Arnie Grossman, a co-founder of the S.A.F.E. anti-gun lobby, said on television that his petition is only a "first step" towards more severe laws.
If private sales at gun shows are somehow "loopholes," then the next obvious "loophole" is private sales in general. But there's no way the government could monitor all private sales unless it registered all gun owners.
Then, like in Britain, registered gun owners will be vulnerable to having their guns confiscated by the authorities when the next political frenzy hits. Then, like in Britain, violent crime rates -- especially burglary -- will soar as criminals gain the upper hand against the defenseless citizenry.
But doesn't the anti-gun lobby just want "reasonable, common-sense legislation to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and children?" We've heard it a thousand times, and it's a clever line of propaganda. But if that's what they wanted, how come their gun restriction laws infringe the rights of lawful adults?
It comes down to this: members of the anti-gun lobby don't trust people. They imagine that lawful gun owners are generally dangerous to themselves and to others, even though the statistics prove otherwise. They don't think it's important that you be able to defend yourself -- such authority lies only with politicians and their police forces.
Every citizen, believes the anti-gun lobby, must be licensed and regulated by federal and state bureaucrats. Any activity not licensed and regulated by the State is called a "loophole." You know, as in "the gun show loophole," where private owners can trade firearms. But freedom is not a "loophole."
As Benjamin Franklin put it, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Liberty and safety are ultimately two sides of the same coin. The more restrictions on constitutional liberty, the more innocent people are victimized.
Ari Armstrong, who edits www.freecolorado.com and is Publications Director of the Libertarian Party of Colorado, wrote this article for the Independence Institute, a free market think tank in Golden, Colorado.
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