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Pentagon Shooter’s Gun Has a Long History

The Washington Post is doing a bang up job of trying to push the idea of banning private sales of handguns. I think there’s a solution to this kind of problem, but it’s not liable to please the gun control groups. We could have background checks for private transfers, without banning them. But it would require a lot of changes to the current system to deal with our concerns, including opening the system up for everyone to use, full transparency, and anonymized transactions. I don’t see any of the anti-gun groups agreeing to negotiate from that as a starting point. Come to think of it, I don’t see the government agreeing to that level of transparency either.

6 Responses to “Pentagon Shooter’s Gun Has a Long History”

  1. Carl in Chicago says:

    It’s interesting to consider the history of individual firearms, particularly those used in crimes.

    But the downside of this … a major downside … is that it causes people to loose site of the behavior of a criminal individual, and focus the attention and blame on a tool.

    And that’s exactly what gun control advocates want.

  2. Matthew Carberry says:

    So this falls into the, what, 1% (3% ?) of guns used in crime that were purchased illegally at gun shows by prohibited persons per the FBI?

    So what this story really teaches us is that:

    Thousands of guns are resold by police agencies to licensed dealers every year, generating benefits for those communities, with no statistically significant harm whatsoever.

    That guns purchased illegally at gun shows and used in crime remain rare and almost inconsequential statistically.

    That BATFE and local law enforcement are able to trace guns just fine under existing restrictions.

    It remains a tragedy, but hardly suggests massive policy changes are necessary when viewed rationally (i.e. accepting that bad people will manage to do bad things no matter how hard we try to stop them).

    Fortunately we have an administration dedicated on record to allowing reason and good science to drive policy.

  3. I’ve figured the same thing. Background checks are stupid and pointless, but they defang most anti-gun arguments, So I have little problem keeping and even expanding them provided their non-fundamental issues are addressed. I’d go one little step farther than you, though:

    All transactions are to be immediately anonymized. The system may keep anonymized transaction tokens…Given a gun’s serial number, authorities can determine whether and when a background check happened for a given gun, and what the result was, but nothing else.

    I don’t trust any system in which the government is furnished with my identity and the gun’s identity, no matter how many experts assure me the code can’t be exploited. This is a check to see whether the purchaser is a prohibited person; take the data on the gun out of the process entirely.

    I’m not particularly bothered by the idea of law enforcement being unable to determine whether a background check was run on a particular gun. Much like with PA’s lost-and-stolen laws, lowering a prosecutor’s burden of proof isn’t high on my list of priorities when balanced against preserving individual rights.

  4. Ian Argent says:

    I don’t often disagree with you; but private background check is a bad idea from an identity-privacy angle. There is no way to be both simultaneously effective and also secure the personal/private information of anyone involved. As it is, the FFL gets too much information for my piece of mind; and they’re at least regulatable for misuse of information.

    The problem is that (at a minimum) the buyer has to provide enough information to uniquely identify him to any background check provider; this has to be done on a channel that is “untrusted” by one side or another in the transaction; most likely a channel provided by the seller in practice.That gives the provider of the channel (again, most likely the seller) the opportunity to capture than information.

    This has 2 problems; first, the obvious one of direct identity theft by the seller by retention of identifying information. Secondly, the “seller” now has an identity that he knows because he has been TOLD by the background check provider will pass the background check. Gold mine for a straw purchase ring. A little bit of thought should show how to “launder” crime firearms or aid in fencing same. And it gives a shield to the person selling to a prohibited person – “he passed the background check” after all.

    Finally, this would basically kill face-to-face private sales between strangers; because who has time to wait for a “maybe” result to clock out (or, for that matter, to defend themselves if the person who got a “maybe” turns out should have been a “no” but the BG system didn’t come back in time). Per Tam, when she worked at an FFL she wouldn’t sell unless it came back “yes” no matter if the BG check had clocked out; and implied that this was common policy in FFLs, with supporting evidence (Comment at Uncle’s in a post about the Las Vegas shooter getting a Maybe on one of his purchases).

    Borepatch can probably go through this with diagrams and graphs and 8×10″ glossies with notes on the back, but I hope I’m getting my point across. You can probably secure it from people who acess the system in good faith, which is how the current BG check system by FFLs works; but this is not securable against bad-faith actors.

  5. Sebastian says:

    That’s a reasonable point, but all you need to do a background check is a DOB and a name. Generally speaking, they don’t need a social. It should be entirely possible to make a system where the only person who knows the identify of the party is the computer.

  6. Ian Argent says:

    DOB and name is a worthless background check. That can be obtained trivially; and thus makes straw purchases EASIER in that the seller can offload his judgement to the background check provider.

    The current BG check system works because there is substantial negative reinforcement for sellers who game the system – to the point that a “maybe” result can be effectively a “no”. And even so, we have straw purchasers and prohibited persons passing the check.

    For that matter, if all I have to do to find out if my neighbor/co-worker/joe-on-the-street is a prohibited person or not is to provide his name and DOB, that’s a terrible information leak.

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