Share This Page

The background check deal: Weak threat

| Wednesday, April 10, 2013, 9:00 p.m.

It's not the apostasy that some conservatives are making it out to be. Neither is it the sea change that some liberals claim it to be.

So what actually is the deal announced Wednesday by Sens. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., two ardent gun-rights supporters, for expanded background checks on gun purchases? Not much for those liberals but more than conservatives might be ready to concede.

The deal, if approved, would require criminal background checks for all gun show and Internet sales. Private sales outside those arenas (including among family members) would continue to be background-check free.

But the reality is that the newly covered sales are a quite small proportion of total sales, most of which already are background checked. To wit, only about 4 percent of all gun sales come at gun shows — and most of those are through federally licensed dealers, who already must run background checks. And fewer than a quarter of such sales — 0.7 percent by one government count — involved any illegality.

More importantly, the Toomey-Manchin deal effectively kills “universal background checks” and proscribes any national gun registry, each quite fraught with privacy peril.

While the plan likely will do nothing to stem the kind of mass shootings out of which it was born — that it somehow would long has been a rubric of gun-grabbers — it's not a threat to the Second Amendment.

In fact, when additional provisions are considered — such as liberalized transport and interstate handgun sales rules and allowing those with concealed-carry permits (who've already undergone a rigorous review) to bypass background checks — the Toomey-Manchin proposal stands to streamline, not hinder, Americans' practice of their Second Amendment rights.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.