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Universal Background Checks and Crime

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Inarus
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Universal Background Checks and Crime

#1 Post by Inarus » Sun Feb 25, 2018 11:20 am

So I’ve been hearing a lot of chatter about “universal background checks” in regards to private transfers of firearms.
Well I have been giving it a lot of thought. Here’s my opinion as to why this is not the answer to our current gun control debate.

As of right now criminals have three options if they were to want to purchase a firearm.
Option one is what is called a straw purchase. Basically, the criminal knows they are not able to pass a background check if they were to buy a gun through a Federal Firearms License holder. The criminal asks a friend or family member who can buy a gun to go in to the gun store, fill out the background check form, then give the gun to the criminal. Two crimes are taking place: First, it is illegal to purchase a gun for someone else. That is called a “straw purchase.” There is a question on the form that asks “Are you the actual purchaser of this firearm?” If the answer is no its an automatic denial. Firearms for family members that are to be given as gifts to spouses or children. Only when the purchaser is buying the firearm with their own money and gifting to another individual does answering “yes” to this question not constitute a crime. The second law that is being broken is the firearm is being transferred to someone that the purchaser has a reasonable belief they should not be in possession of a firearm. Proponents of universal background checks argue that adding another law on top of existing laws would stop this type of transfer – that is not correct. Simply put adding a third law broken will not stop this behavior. Additionally, in every plan put forward family members have been exempted from the NICS check when transferring firearms.
Option two involves buying the firearm from someone who is selling them illegally. Often referred to as the black market, there are firearm vendors that will sell firearms (usually illegally modified to have the serial number removed) to criminals. This type of behavior would not be stopped by the universal background check law given that it currently happens between criminals who are prohibited from owning firearms. It is asinine to believe that this would stop based on a universal background check law. The parties involved in selling these firearms are (most likely) already prohibited from buying a gun, attempting to purchase one is already committing a felony. Adding a second law on top of the first would not prohibit behavior.
Option three is the private transfer of a firearm from a law-abiding citizen to the possession of a criminal, the misnomer that leftists call the “gun show loophole” even though research has shown that the overwhelming majority of firearms used in crimes are not acquired from a gun show. According to a US Department of Justice study released in 1997, only 2% of criminal guns come from gun shows. But a private transfer is not only limited to a gun show – it can happen anywhere, including in the parking lot of a Target. I myself have purchased several firearms this way. Through social media I would find a firearm I like, arrange pickup with the seller, and without a background check purchase a firearm. However in every instance that I have bought a firearm through private transfer I have been asked to show my Texas License to Carry. For those who do not know having an LTC means that when I purchase a firearm through an FFL instead of calling in to the National Criminal Instant Background Check Service I present my LTC and on the background check from it is recorded that I have my LTC and I am able to purchase the firearm. The logic behind this is that, in the states that allow this practice, the background check for an LTC is much more extensive than a NICS check. Simply by having an LTC I am qualified to purchase a firearm. The restrictions on an LTC are more narrow than that of having a firearm so if I possesses an LTC then I am legally allowed to purchase a firearm. However it is worth noting that most social media companies (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter,) as well as online market places like Craigslist have a prohibition against selling or trading firearms. Most of the firearm-sales related groups that I was in prior to their purge in 2016 have been closed down. A few social media platforms still allow this practice however they are not in common use in the United States.
Back to the private transfer of firearms. Those criminals who would try to purchase a firearm through a private transfer from a law-abiding citizen are not going to have the flow of firearms stopped to them. Where a law-abiding citizen will follow this law and take all private transfers to an FFL to be screened, the criminal will simply resort to options one and two as stated above.

I would like to use empirical data, however to determine if universal background checks have any noticeable effect on crime rates in the states that enacted them. As of right now nine states require universal background checks. They are listed with the dates in which they enacted the legislation in parenthesis after the state name. California, Colorado (2013), Connecticut (2013), Delaware (2013), Maryland (2013), Nevada (2013), New York (2013), Oregon (2015), Rhode Island, and Washington State (2014).

What I would like to do is look at trends in violent crimes from before and after the background checks were put in place, by state. Violent crimes will be counted as homicide, rape, robbery or aggravated assault. Unless otherwise noted, stats from 2010-2016 will be used. A note on Disastercenter.com, I used them for all info except Colorado as I found Colorado's Bureau of Investigation prior to finding Disastercenter.com. I cross-checked their information with published state statistics and they are the same. Disastercenter.com is citing directly from both the FBI Universal Crime Reports as well as each state's crime reports.

Colorado: Information accessed through the Colorado Bureau of Investigation.
Total, by year:
2010 – 16,676
2011 - 16, 278 (-2.4%)
2012 – 15, 719 (-3.5%)
2013 (Universal background checks begin) - 16,056 (+2.1%)
2014 – 16,355 (+1.8%)
2015 – 17,450 (+6.7%)
2016 – 18,787 (+7.7%)

Increase from 2010 to 2016: 12.6%.
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

Connecticut: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 10,083
2011 – 9,889 (-2%)
2012 – 10,183 (+2.9%)
2013 – (Universal Background checks begin) – 9,439 (-10.3%)
2014 – 8,575 (-9.2%)
2015 – 7,938 (-7.5%)
2016 – 8,123 (+2.3%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: -19.5%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

Deleware: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 5,608
2011 – 5,114 (-9.9%)
2012 – 5,048 (-1.3%)
2013 – (Universal Background checks begin) 4,633 (-8.3%)
2014 – 4,568 (-1.5%)
2015 – 4,760 (+4.2%)
2016 – 4,844 (+1.7%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: -13.6%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

Maryland: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 31,607
2011 – 28,817 (-8.9%)
2012 – 28,086 (-2.6%)
2013 – (Universal Background checks begin) 28,235 (+0.5%)
2014 – 26,767 (-5.2%)
2015 – 28,185 (+5.2%)
2016 – 28,400 (+0.7%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: -10.2%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

Nevada: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 17,929
2011 – 15,452 (-13.9%)
2012 – 16,763 (+8.4%)
2013 – (Universal Background checks begin) 16,888 (+0.7%)
2014 – 18,043 (+6.8%)
2015 – 20,118 (+11.5%)
2016 – 19,936 (-0.1%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: +11.1%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

New York: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 76,492
2011 – 77,463 (+1.2%)
2012 – 79,535 (++2.6%)
2013 – (Universal Background checks begin) 77,563 (-2.5%)
2014 – 75,972 (-2.1%)
2015 – 75,126 (-1.2%)
2016 – 74,285 (-1.2%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: -2.9%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

Oregon: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 9,648
2011 – 9,643 (-0.1%)
2012 – 9,638 (-0.1%)
2013 – 9,536 (-1.1%)
2014 – 10,294 (+7.9%)
2015 – (Universal Background checks begin) 10,680 (+3.7%)
2016 – 10,830 (+1.4%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: +12.2%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

Washington: Information accessed through disastercenter.com
2010 – 21,138
2011 – 20,152 (-4.7%)
2012 – 20,553 (+1.9%
2013 – 20,223 (-1.7%)
2014 –(Universal Background checks begin) 20,185 (-0.2%)
2015 – 20,505 (+1.5%)
2016 – 22,023 (+7.4%)
Increase from 2010 to 2016: +4.1%
National increase from 2010 to 2016: 2.5%

If simply looking at the seven-year trends we highlighted above there are four states that have increases in crime from 2010 to 2016, five states that have decreases in crime from 2010 to 2016. Statistically it is almost a tie given the states surveyed. As a note a specific start time for California’s and Rhode Island’s start year for Universal Background checks could not be quickly found.
I want to highlight the rates of violent crime from the year universal background checks began in each state and 2016, the final year of data being available.
In only two states, New York and Connecticut, did the violent crime rate fall after the pass of universal background checks. The other remaining five states had increases from the year they passed universal background checks versus the most recent data. When talking about violent crime as a whole I come to the conclusion that universal background checks do not lead to a decrease in crime.

I do not believe that “universal background checks” are the answer to the current gun control situation. Critics would cite the Missouri and Connecticut studies when permits to purchase firearms were repealed and put in place, respectively, showing that universal background checks work. However, those two states are outliers in the overall data. Requiring all transfers of firearms to go through background checks will not curb crime as those who are going to commit a crime with a firearm are not going to go through an FFL when doing a private transfer anyway. Simply put criminals will not obey one law when they are already breaking another.

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Re: Universal Background Checks and Crime

#2 Post by wjh » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:13 pm

You did a great job on your research. The problem is, research and logic have nothing to do with any of this. The gun-grabbers don't care if it helps or doesn't help. it is just another piece of gun legislation and all gun legislation is good. They play the ground game advancing the ball a few yards at a time to reach the ultimate goal, a gun free society. Every additional restriction (common sense don't you know) just moves the ball closer. The newest thing and one Republicans seem to love, is raising the age for long gun purchases to 21. Typically though, long guns are involved in few crimes. Again, that fact doesn't matter.

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Re: Universal Background Checks and Crime

#3 Post by Inarus » Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:41 pm

wjh wrote:
Sun Feb 25, 2018 10:13 pm
You did a great job on your research. The problem is, research and logic have nothing to do with any of this. The gun-grabbers don't care if it helps or doesn't help. it is just another piece of gun legislation and all gun legislation is good. They play the ground game advancing the ball a few yards at a time to reach the ultimate goal, a gun free society. Every additional restriction (common sense don't you know) just moves the ball closer. The newest thing and one Republicans seem to love, is raising the age for long gun purchases to 21. Typically though, long guns are involved in few crimes. Again, that fact doesn't matter.
Oh I understand that we're fighting ignorance with logic. We're fighting the intellectually unarmed.

My post was not simply to refute anyone who would say that "We need Universal Background Checks" but more for those of us on our side who took the time to read my novel here so they had information to use in the world when arguing with gun-grabbers.

There's not one single bit of "logic" they use that holds up to actual real-world application.

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Re: Universal Background Checks and Crime

#4 Post by CamaroDMD » Mon Feb 26, 2018 11:50 am

I'm not entirely sure where I stand on this issue. On one hand, we should do what we can to keep firearms out of the hands of criminals. But, as you said...there are always criminals willing to sell guns to other criminals. My guess is, the vast majority of firearms used in crimes are going to be firearms that were not legally obtained.

That being said, I don't totally agree with the conclusions drawn from the data above...in part because I believe the interpretation of the data is flawed. The data above is simply drawn from raw number of violent crime and we see an upward trend in several of the states. However, what it doesn't show is how that relates to the states population. What I think would be better would be a list that shows violent crime rate as a percentage of population and see if that has changed.

So, I went ahead and attempted to calculate that. I looked only at the 2010 and 2016 data just to get a basic idea. The 2010 population I used from was from the 2010 census and the 2016 was from the census bureau's estimate. Here's what I found:

Colorado - 2010: 0.332%, 2016: 0.339% Difference: +0.007%
Connecticut - 2010: 0.282%, 2016: 0.227% Difference: -0.055%
Delaware - 2010: 0.625%, 2016: 0.509% Difference: -0.116%
Maryland - 2010: 0.547%, 2016: 0.472% Difference: -0.075%
Nevada - 2010: 0.664%, 2016: 0.678% Difference: +0.014%
New York - 2010: 0.395%, 2016: 0.374% Difference: -0.021%
Oregon - 2010: 0.252%, 2016: 0.265% Difference: +0.013%
Washington - 2010: 0.314%, 2016: 0.302% Difference: -0.012%

So, of the 8 states listed above...5 states show decreased violent crime per capita in 2016 verses 2010 and 3 states showed a increase in violet crime per capita. Obviously I didn't break this down any further to get an annual trend (I did this at work and don't have time)...but it does give another perspective. I don't think the sample size here is big enough to draw any major conclusions...but it does show a slightly different picture than the graph above.

Of course, does this have anything to do with the universal background checks in these states...I have no clue. We'd have to look at the trends from other states as a negative control and see. We'd also need a large enough sample size to prove that the changes are significant (I didn't bother to calculate a p value for these numbers to see if it would be considered "statistically significant" because the sample size is far too small).

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Re: Universal Background Checks and Crime

#5 Post by Ghoulardi » Mon Feb 26, 2018 12:24 pm

instead of writing, or copying a long Phd dissertation paper on why universal background checks won't work, I can sum it up in a few words, why it won't work:

sellers just will poop-poop it and sell the gun out of eye sight everyone. and it's not just going to criminals selling to criminals, the average joe will be doing it.

it's being done now, except in the open. go to any gun show what drive some people to "private sales" are those that are just paranoid about filling out a 4473 AND those that are felons, have restraining order or other factors that make them disqualified to own a gun.

just because a person is clean cut, "grandfatherly" doesn't mean he is a "honest law abiding citizen". he could have gotten out of prison last week after serving a murder conviction.
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Re: Universal Background Checks and Crime

#6 Post by Hammy » Mon Feb 26, 2018 9:26 pm

Interesting reading. However, as the old saying goes, "figures can lie and liars can figure". Any data can be "repurposed" to whatever the presenter wants it to be. I'm sure we've all seen examples of that. I do agree that no matter how many laws are passed, they will do nothing to stop criminals from doing criminal things. Yet there are still folks out there that are convinced heart and soul that more laws are the answer. One side feels it is presenting an informed, logical argument about how laws don't work. The other side is presenting an emotional, heart-tugging argument. Most people are conditioned to use their emotions instead of logical thinking. That's when the real troubles start. Folks who are fence-setters will almost always go with emotions because who has time to think independently? The gun-show loophole and on-line purchases are a prime example. Every time I have purchased at a gun show or on-line, I had to fill out paperwork and submit to the background check, then wait the required period before getting my mitts on the gun. I have seen a couple of times when guys were buying outside the gunshow, but it was dealer to dealer. The bottom line is, bad people do bad things, with no thought of consequences, because they just don't care.
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