Matt Evans: What Actual Gun Law Compromise Might Look Like


A compromise is when two parties who disagree both give up something they want in order to get something else they want more.

People  who want to restrict gun laws further tend to complain that those who don’t want further restrictions are not willing to compromise.  This is silly; the gun grabbers basic game plan is to ask for everything they want, get as much as they can, wait a while, and then ask for more.  They repeat this over and over.  In this way, they make incremental progress towards their end goal of total citizen disarmament.  Any attempt at resisting this is seen as obstruction and refusal to compromise.

Those in America who want tighter gun laws ought not to be tolerated, respected, nor taken seriously.  They tend to make poor arguments, driven by ignorance and emotion.

But, they may have a lot of votes.

And so our options are to start shooting them (since we’re the better armed party), or, preferably, to secure the best political outcome possible without having to shoot.

This means that when they want us to come to the table politically, and insist they want to compromise, we should know what we want, and what we might be willing to give up in order to get it.

To set expectations, my idea of gun control is to hit what you want to hit with each shot.  In my ideal world, any responsible teenager would be able to go to the hardware store and buy a belt fed machine gun, with cash, anonymously.

(Except it wouldn’t really be anonymous, because everyone would know everybody in small town Evansland – there’d be no large cities, because evidence tells us that large cities is where gun violence and bad politics both come from)

[mks_pullquote align=”right” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]Those in America who want tighter gun laws ought not to be tolerated, respected, nor taken seriously.  They tend to make poor arguments, driven by ignorance and emotion. But, they may have a lot of votes.[/mks_pullquote]

I digress.

Lately, gun grabbers have been talking about wanting universal background checks.  They say related things that don’t make sense, like “closing the gun show loop hole” or “ending online sales”.  There is no gun show loop hole, and when you buy a gun online from a business, it has to be mailed to an FFL01 in your state – just like buying a gun from a store, or from anyone else out of state.

There are already background checks anytime you buy a gun from a business, or anytime you buy a gun from across state lines.  If you buy a gun from a dealer at a gun show, you must go through the same background check and process you’d be required to use at his or her storefront.

The only scenario today where there are NOT background checks is what is called a private party transfer.  In some states (but not all), two people who live in the same state can buy/sell firearms with no paperwork nor federal oversight.

The universal background check folks usually claim they want to end private party transfers, so that everyone has to go through a background check process of some kind.

Let’s set aside for a moment that street criminals tend to steal most of their guns, and let’s also set aside for a moment that “mass shooters” tend to not have previous issues that would legally disqualify them from purchasing a gun under the current background check system.

Let’s just take these folks at face value and assume they really want all transfers of a gun to go through a background check system.


Well, now we can talk about a family of different proposals and compromises.  We can see about securing things that are important to us, and we can divine the true nature of our opponents and expose them, when necessary.  We can also make them eat their rhetoric about compromise.

Why do gun rights enthusiasts like private party transfers?

There are a few reasons.  Firstly, private party transfers are free.  To transfer a gun at a dealership, you must pay the dealer a fee.  Secondly, you must both do this in the presence of the dealer; e.g. you can only buy or sell during business hours.

Finally, and most importantly, buying a gun and involving an FFL01 dealer leaves a paper trail.  Anytime an FFL01 (gun dealer) has a weapon pass out of their inventory, they must make a record of it and keep that record for years.  The records can be confiscated or searched by the federal government at any time, without notice.  Additionally, anytime a gun dealer directly sells a firearm, the buyer has to fill out a Form 4473 and do a NICS check.  Both of these actions also leave a record of who purchased the gun.  The NICS check actually sends your name and other identifying info to the federal government, right then and there.

This background check activity creates a defacto registry, both with the federal government, and with local gun stores, about which citizens own which firearms.

History shows us that government registries of who owns what firearms are always precursors to firearms confiscation.  That is, when the government knows who has the guns, they use that information to eventually confiscate guns from the citizens.

It is important that the national government not have a clear idea of who has guns and how many they have.  This is important not just for hypothetical confiscation reasons, but because anti-gun folks are, in some cases, irresponsible and vindictive.  For example, a journalist published the addresses of families who had gun permits in New York state.  Since we know that criminals steal most of their guns, this was an irresponsible act – it told criminals exactly which homes to target if they wanted to steal guns.

[mks_pullquote align=”left” width=”300″ size=”24″ bg_color=”#ffffff” txt_color=”#000000″]It is important that the national government not have a clear idea of who has guns and how many they have.  This is important not just for hypothetical confiscation reasons, but because anti-gun folks are, in some cases, irresponsible and vindictive.[/mks_pullquote]

So, those who wish to keep their guns and who are good students of history are opposed to typical universal background check proposals, if for no other reason than because they tend to “leak” information that builds a registration database.

Those who want universal background checks aren’t swayed by this consideration.

So what about a compromise?

If gun rights activists really want the best features of private party transfers – no registration, no paper trail, and no fees, and gun grabbers really just want a better background check system, can a policy be designed that is a real compromise?

The answer is: Yes.

Let’s describe the current system a bit more.

The current NICS system contains a list of people who may not purchase a gun.  There are plenty of people who can pass a NICS check who really shouldn’t be able to pass it.  The reason for that is that sales are allowed by default,  until someone gets around to putting the name of a prohibited person into the NICS system.  The NICS system is a “black list” system.  If you aren’t supposed to have a gun, you’re on the list.

Furthermore, the NICS system is NOT open for private sellers to consult.  Let that sink in: even if someone wanted to do a NICS check before doing a private party sale, they are prohibited from doing this today.  The NICS system can only be used by dealers.

Additionally, by definition, if you do a NICS check on a prospective buyer, you are sending the name and identifying info of the prospective buyer to the federal government.  This creates the registry.

But an alternative system could exist.  The federal government could publish a “white list” – a list of every person in America who is legally allowed to buy a gun.  The federal government could then send this list to every FFL01 dealer in the United States, on a regular basis.

This means that if someone goes into a gun store, if they are allowed to buy a gun, their name is already on the gun store’s computer – on the white list.  The name of that person doesn’t need to be sent back to the government to see if the person is allowed to buy a gun – the decision can be made locally, in the store.  The store doesn’t even need a phone or internet connection to do the check – just to occasionally get new versions of the white list.

This means that buying a gun in a gun store can be done without creating a registry or a paper trail, and the buyer can still be checked against the background check database.

To sweeten the deal for gun owners and gun dealers, the transfer fee and transfer paperwork, and 4473 forms, could all be retired.

Transferring a gun (buying or selling it) at a gun store would then no longer be more expensive than doing it face to face, and unlike today, leave no paper trail and create no registry.  This would give gun owners most of the advantages of current private party transfers.

The only issue then, would to be make sure that all legal gun sales consulted the white list.  Gun grabbers would insist that private party sales must be outlawed to make this happen, but of course that’s not true.

The government could simply build a smart phone application that allowed a prospective seller to input the prospective buyer’s information into the app.  It would then consult the white list and see if the prospective buyer was present (and therefore, allowed to buy).

The app could actually be online or off line – that is, the entire white list could be available on the phone, or stored up on a government server.  In the former case, there may be privacy concerns about letting anyone download the whitelist of who is allowed to buy a gun.  In the latter case, using the app would “leak” prospective gun owner information and contribute to a registry.

The point is – we could allow or disallow private party transfers, and leak or not leak buyer information into a national registry, and still have each transferee go through the same background check database.  Any variation we want as a society is technically possible.

So, in summary, it is possible to build a workable background check system that can cover all types of sales, and which does NOT create a registry that can be used for later gun confiscation.

This is important, because now you’re equipped to have a frank conversation with gun control advocates.  When they say they want a universal background check system, or they want to end private party transfers, you need to ask some clarifying questions.  You need to mention this compromise.

You need to ask, “if we could make a system that did background checks, but didn’t build a list of who is buying guns, would that be ok with you?  We would cover every single gun sale with the same background check, but, we wouldn’t keep records of who actually passed them”.

How they answer this question is important.

If they honestly just want to make sure guns aren’t legally sold to the “wrong” people, they should be happy with this proposal.  They should be happy about this.

But, if they want a paper trail – if they want a registry to be created that records who owns what firearms, then you’ve got a problem.

If a person insists that they want a registry of who owns what, then that person wants eventual confiscation.  The main reason to want a registry of who owns what guns is because you plan on taking them later.

A person who wants to confiscate guns is not your friend. They want to hurt you some day.

Proposing the compromise I’ve described here is important.  You can learn who honestly, even though misguided, wants to improve background checks, and you can learn who really wants to take your guns as soon they think they can get away with it.

A compromise between gun grabbers and gun owners would make confiscation harder while making background checks easier and more common.  If your gun grabber acquaintances don’t like this compromise, it’s not because you’re unwilling to compromise, it’s because they are.

Their goal is confiscation, and they won’t compromise.  They may wait.  But they’ll never give up.  And one day, they’ll be done waiting.

That’s when we start shooting.