Wednesday, August 07, 2013

How to get a gun Without a Background Check

 A homemade submachine gun

Obtaining a gun without a background check in the United States (and much of the world) is a fairly easy process, and is becoming easier all the time.  Here are some of the common methods of obtaining a gun without a background check.

1. Have someone who can pass the background check buy it for you.  This is illegal to do for someone who is forbidden from possessing guns.  It is known as a straw purchase.  The BATFE says that it is the most common method for criminals to obtain guns.   In most states it is not illegal to buy a gun for someone who may legally possess one, as a gift.

2.  Steal it.  This is a common method for criminals to obtain guns.  If you are of the persuasion that thinks more government is the answer to every problem, you might want to make it illegal for people to have their guns stolen, or to require that guns be locked up in vaults, making them harder to steal.

The Supreme Court has already ruled that it is unconstitutional to require people to have their guns locked up.  People have a right to have loaded handguns (the type most commonly used in crime) unlocked in their home as ruled in the Heller decision.   This ruling was extended to the states in McDonald.  The Newtown shooter stole the guns he used, and murdered his mother in order to do so.

3.  Buy it from someone who stole it.  Another very common source for criminals.  Stealing immediately breaks the ability to "trace" the firearm, rendering "tracing" nearly useless for solving crimes.   It can be used for demonizing the original victim the gun was stolen from, though.  Guns that are used in crime in tight gun control states, that come from states that have greater freedom in obtaining guns (often with lower crime rates), were purchased an average of 11 years before.  With over 300 million firearms in the United States, methods two and three are a large and uncontrollable source of guns for criminals.  Tens of millions of these guns were made before 1968, have no serial number, and cannot be traced.

 A minuscule fraction of the guns available in  the United States, millions legally without  serial numbers

3. Make your own.  More common than people think.  Because homemade and small shop made guns are not traceable, they seldom end up in any official statistics.  They are even made in prisons, and it is hard to think of a more tightly controlled environment.  Homemade guns may not win target competitions, or be very good as hunting arms, but they usually work just fine for crimes.  The tighter the firearms regulations, the more homemade guns are made.  There are many YouTube videos on how to make homemade guns.

Because machine tools are relatively cheap and commonly available, sophisticated homemade guns are becoming more common.  I have not seen any published figures on the number of homemade guns.

4.  Print your own.  Some would say that this is just a subset of number 3.  However, the potential ease of use and the recent publicity qualify this as a separate category.

A simple 3D printed pistol

5. Rent one from a criminal.  It is a common practice for criminals to rent guns for a crime from a criminal associate.  No background check.

6. Own one as part of the collective.   Some people call these collective groups gangs.  It is common for gangs to own guns and to stash them in places that can be accessed by any gang member.   No background check.

7. Buy one from a corrupt policeman/authority figure.  Police often have access to guns that are turned in without paperwork, confiscated from citizens without a receipt, or "lost" from evidence rooms.   There is a whole culture of police having and using "throw down" guns.   When a policeman needs some money, or maybe a favor, these guns become another source of guns without background checks.  Police are in a unique position to be suppliers to criminals in this regard, because of their intimate connection to criminal informants.

8.  Buy one at a gun show.  This list would not be complete without the gun show.  Guns may be sold at most gun shows by private individuals without a background check.  Most criminals avoid gun shows because there is usually a significant police presence.  A National Institute of Justice study (admittedly from 1997) shows that about 2% of guns procured by criminals come from this source.

9. Buy a gun from private parties that advertise on various media such as newspapers, Internet sites, the local advertiser, garage sales, and other sources.  This certainly happens.  It is uncertain what percentage of criminals' guns come from these sources, but certainly some do.    The same BATFE study from 2000 (referenced in source 1) estimates that about 20% -30% of guns obtained by criminals come from private sellers, which would include private sellers at guns shows and criminal associates selling stolen guns.

Extending background checks to private sales would have no effect on methods 1-7.  Because most of  the guns obtained by criminals are already outside of legal channels, requiring background checks on the fraction obtained from legal channels would not have much effect on crime, as substitution of another method would be likely.    It is clear that those who push for universal background checks are not really interested in checking the background of those buying guns, but are primarily interested in recording the gun information preparatory to creating a de facto gun registration.

When offered a background check bill without a path to gun registration, those who claimed to want universal background checks immediately rejected it.

Private sales are the safety valve that prevents background checks from becoming gun registration.  Because of the many ways that background checks can be evaded, background checks are not a viable method of reducing crime.

  ©2013 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.

Update:  Here is a chart from 2004 showing sources of guns for prison inmates:



Just me said...

Great article on background checks I enjoyed it.

Fourth Force said...

It was a great post on background verification. Really good.

Unknown said...

It was a good article about Background Verification/ Check.