When the Manchin-Toomey bill went down to defeat, I wondered how certain Senators could say they supported background checks while, at the same time, voting against them. At least the Senators who voted against the bill because they didn’t like background checks (ex. Rand Paul) were being consistent. But saying yes on the one hand and no on the other?
A friend just forwarded to me a copy of the letter that Kelly Ayotte is sending out to people who have taken the trouble to ask her the same question. And her response is that the NICS system is not working and until it’s fixed, she can’t support extending it to cover additional transactions. Here’s her first proof that the NICS system is “broken.” She sasy:
“Even if the current background check system was expanded, it’s important to note that a May 2013 Department of Justice report found that less than one percent of state prison inmates who possessed a gun when they committed their offense obtained the firearm at a gun show, and only about 10 percent of state prison inmates obtained their firearm from a licensed firearm dealer. In many cases, criminals find alternate methods to obtain firearms. In fact, 40 percent of state prison inmates who possessed a gun when they committed their offense obtained their firearm from an illegal source such as through a drug deal, theft, or the black market, and that is why we need rigorous prosecution of gun-related crimes.”
Is Senator Ayotte actually saying that if 40% of all guns used in felonies cannot be tracked or controlled through background checks, that we shouldn’t go after the other 60%? Is a United States Senator saying something quite that stupid? Hold on – it gets better. She also says that the whole NICS is a “broken system that the government is not fully enforcing.” And she adds: “For example, in 2010, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms was referred 76,412 National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) denials, about two-thirds of which were based on the applicant being a felon or fugitive from justice. Of those, charges were brought in only 44 cases – and resulted in just 13 successful prosecutions.”
This business about all the NICS denials that aren’t being prosecuted has been floating around the background checks debate and I’d give anything to find out who said it first. Because I’ve heard it repeated again and again and while it sounds like the system really isn’t working, I wouldn’t assume that there’s any problem at all. For example, what does the phrase “fugitive from justice” really mean? In Los Angeles, for example, there are more than one million outstanding bench warrants for such offenses as failing to pay a fine for jay-walking, or smoking, or God knows what else. The number in New York City is about the same. None of these warrants will ever be served and every one of these individuals is a “fugitive from justice.” I’m not saying the system is perfect; there have been NICS denials in my shop and I know at least one instance in which the individual who was denied really shouldn’t have gotten a gun.
The truth is that Kelly Ayotte didn’t want to vote for expanded background checks because for the moment she’s a friend of the NRA. She can’t come out and admit it, so she cloaks her vote in an appeal for ‘better enforcement’ of existing laws. Oh well, I guess in politics you get what you vote for. Maine voted for Kelly and Kelly voted for the NRA.