Thoughts on background checks

David Codrea talks about the Media Matters disinformation report on this year’s Gun Rights Policy Conference. That prompted a few thoughts of my own.

  • If it’s good to be despised by the despicable, what should we make of Media Matters’ praise of of scumsucker Alan Gottlieb?
  • Media Matters (“Our blog section features rapid response fact-checks of conservative misinformation”) claims that I-591 was “a direct response to another initiative on the ballot, 594”, which is a neat trick of temporal inversion worthy of Doctor Who, since I-591 was filed on May 23, 2013 while the worse I-594 was filed more than three weeks later on June 17, 2013. Some great fact-checking there; about as good as getting Knox’s name wrong through the entire article.
  • The oft-quoted claim that 90% of all Americans want background checks was raised yet again. Leaving aside the odd fact that I’ve never found anyone who admits to responding to the UNH-run poll on the subject – neither pro-checks, nor against checks – I keep wondering: If background checks are wanted by such a hugely overwhelming majority, why bother making them mandatory? Surely all those people would be happy to voluntarily use a non-mandatory check system, if only the “authorities” would allow it. Currently, the only way a private seller can run a NICS check on a buyer is to run the transaction through a licensed dealer, which entails the dealer taking possession of the firearm to be sold, logging it into his bound book for a permanent record, charging a fee for the check, and then transferring it to an approved buyer, with a permanent record of that transaction (NH idiot-legislators tried passing a law requiring this, but discovered their solution actually violated federal law… as we warned them in advance, but they were too damned stupid to understand).
  • With virtually everyone in the country supposedly loving and using such voluntary checks, civil suits would be sufficient to handle the few cases where someone sold to a prohibited person without a check if it resulted in an actual crime against a person.
  • The Blind Identification System (BIDS), a proposed anonymized (but mandatory) background check system got mentioned. Again.  Anonymized checks, with no record that could be used for registration sounds good. Except… there are a few problems.
    • If the preemptively-prove-your-innocence background check is mandatory, how the heck does a seller prove he complied with the mandatory law if there’s no record of the check?
    • One might take a screen shot image capture of the approval (or disapproval) that pops up on the monitor, and save that as a record in case the cops come calling with a an arrest warrant, or…
    • …one might make some extra beer money by photoshopping one such approval screencap and selling fake approvals to people that want to peddle guns to prohibited persons. That would probably be even easier than ‘shopping a birth certificate.
    • If anyone could run a PPYI background check with no receord of what he did, what’s to stop your annoying neighbor running background checks on you just for the hell of it? Or a stalker checking on that attractive-but-disinterested woman he wants?
    • Funny thing about records: While it would be easy enough to not log a transaction into the database, that’s not the only place you’ll find a record of an inquiry. Online servers such as would be needed for online BIDS checks keep server logs, entirely separate from database records. These logs include all connection attempts (timestamps, originating IP address, content of connection request [i.e.- all the personal identifying info for the background check]). So if someone down the road decided to put together a firearms registration list, all he’d have to do is pull up the archived (everyone but the IRS archives server logs) logs, and parse them for the desired info. Voila! Registration.
    • You could disable server logs (some serious privacy advocates do it), but that pretty much eliminates any possibility of troubleshooting problems. Problems like false positives on checks (someone with a clean record getting rejected) or false negatives (oops, we let you sell that rifle to a paroled serial child-killer/molester; our bad). Problems like someone running a denial of service attack to bring down the BIDS servers, or simple transmission line errors. There’s a reason we use server logs, and they’d have to be taken into account in BIDS.

 

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