California Universal Background Checks Had No Real Effect on Crime

Published in Criminal Justice .

Dean Weingarten at the pro-Second Amendment website Ammoland recently discovered some revelatory data regarding California’s universal background check policy.

According to a study that was published recently in The Annals of Epidemiology, California’s universal background check law and the state ban on firearm ownership for those convicted of violent misdemeanors has had no effect on firearm-related homicides or deaths. The policy was passed in 1991 and the study focused on the time periods before and after the law was passed. In conclusion, the study revealed that the law had no effect on firearms homicides or suicides.

Of the 50 states, California has built a reputation for being one of the most anti-gun in the nation. In Guns & Ammo magazine’s 2019 Best States for Gun Owners rankings, California was ranked in 47th place. Given that California does not have any provisions where the right to bear arms is protected in its constitution, its abysmal ranking should not be surprising. Universal background checks are a popular gun control policy that state legislatures have been entertaining during the last decade. However popular these policies may be, recent evidence has shown that they are not conducive to fighting crime.

For example,  Missouri had UBCs from 1981 to 2007. Even though murder rates had increased by 17 percent five years after Missouri’s UBC policy was repealed, five years prior to the law’s repeal, murder rates increased by 32 percent. This is a clear indicator that Missouri had an overarching murder problem regardless of what gun policies it had in effect. The expiration of Missouri’s UBC law slowed the increase in Missouri’s murder rate. In sum, gun control advocates cannot jump out and say their policies immediately fix crime rates.

Beyond their efficacy or lack thereof in fighting crime, UBCs bring about problems when it comes to regulatory barriers. What most gun control champions won’t tell their constituents is that these laws don’t just get financed by money coming out of thin air. Generally speaking, UBCs involve harsh fees on each firearms transaction.

Gun researcher John Lott cited the examples of Washington, D.C. and New York City, where private gun transfers cost at least $125. UBC fees present a significant financial barrier to the working class in crime-prone cities. Individuals who are not economically well-off are frequently on the receiving end of violent crime and can’t always rely on law enforcement to protect them. In contrast, criminals ignore gun laws and go about carrying out crimes regardless of what gun control measures are put in place.

Typically, when a gun control policy fails, the Left will not consider the possibility that gun control is an ineffective measure in combating crime. Instead, they’ll suggest that states pass more gun control. And when the next set of gun control fails, they’ll insist on another round of anti-gun policies. It’s a never-ending cycle. We ultimately have to ask, what is their endgame? As gun control policies become so draconian, it will only be the government, criminals (who don’t care about laws or regulations), and those privileged to afford firearms or security that will have guns.

The relaxation of gun ownership laws is an obvious solution to this problem. In addition to liberalizing gun laws so that more law-abiding people can arm themselves, we should consider more efficient use of police resources in crime-ridden areas and consider policies restoring civic institutions in inner cities. These measures will do much more to curb crime and bring a sense of social cohesion to these areas than whatever gun control law is in style these days.

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