By Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas)
Like many of Washington's bad ideas, the so-called "universal background check" creates more dangers than it supposedly prevents.
The so-called universal background check system would be a violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights on an unprecedented scale. The principle that no person can purchase or sell a firearm without first receiving government permission transforms the Second Amendment from a "right" that should be protected by the government into a privilege granted by the government.
Even if every private transfer of firearms were regulated by the federal government, it would not be an effective crime-fighting tool. Typically, shooters steal firearms (Adam Lanza), pass a background check (James Holmes and Jared Loughner) or receive their firearms through straw purchasers (which is already illegal).
Such a law could apply to transfers between family members, friends and neighbors, who must seek out a federally licensed gun dealer to facilitate the transaction. Many sellers in very rural areas would find it a great hardship to travel many miles, accompanied by their purchasers, in order to make a sale in a licensed dealer's place of business.
Additionally, many small dealers are closed on weekends and holidays. Will the people's right to transfer lawfully owned products be valid only during working hours?
Even worse, economist John Lott finds "8 percent of background checks are not accomplished within two hours, with almost all of these delays taking three days or longer." And almost 100 percent of these initial denials turn out to have been illegitimate.
There is also potential for official misuse and de facto gun owner registration, as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is increasingly copying the contents of gun dealers' 4473 forms.
The so-called universal background check also denies more gun purchases to law-abiding citizens than criminals. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) list currently contains the names of more than 150,000 law-abiding veterans who did nothing wrong but honor serve their country and seek counseling for their wartime experiences. It could soon contain millions of names of Medicaid patients who formerly had postpartum depression and students with harmless attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
As for President Obama's claim, that background checks have stopped 1.5 million criminals from buying guns, that's simply not true.
According to one Government Accountability Office report, almost 50 percent of denials were because of administrative errors or unpaid parking tickets, and many others because of a problem common to the "no-fly list" -- people have the same name as a banned person. In fact, in 2010 only 13 people were potentially sent to jail as a result of being stopped by NICS checks.
While the anti-gun lobby is backed largely by a pet project of a billionaire with a Napoleon complex, grassroots powerhouses like Gun Owners of America, the National Association for Gun Rights and the NRA are backed and funded by the millions of Americans who support the right to keep and bear arms.
When the president himself issued a national call to action for Americans to deluge their congressman with messages of support for gun control, I got a grand total of 16 messages. On the other side, I get at least 100 emails a day from constituents who oppose Obama's anti-gun agenda.
A recent Quinnipiac poll shows the president's poll numbers have plummeted 12 points since December, the time that he began his assault on the Second Amendment. A Jan. 14 Gallup poll found only 4 percent of Americans thought gun control was a major issue.
The president exudes weakness. The incumbent president spent $1 billion dollars on his reelection campaign and managed just 51 percent of the vote. Under Obama, Democrats have lost four Senate seats and 55 House seats. It's no surprise he got only 16 responses to a national call to action.
Not only are so-called universal background checks a deadly failure that disarm law-abiding citizens, they are a political failure as well. Therefore, under the precedents and traditions of the House, my colleagues and I are asking Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for no gun legislation to be brought to the floor of the House unless it has the affirmative support of a majority of our caucus.
Obama and the Astroturf anti-gun agenda are leading his party into political oblivion, and Boehner is missing an opportunity to solidify and rally a voting and activist base of millions.
Stockman is a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and the Science, Space and Technology Committee.