WaPo: ‘Fix the firearms background-check database first’

Lawrence G. Keane argues that The Washington Post’s editorial board was off on its suggestions for improving the gun buying background check system.

Keane is the senior vice president, assistant secretary and general counsel of the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

The Oct. 12 editorial “Making moves on gun laws” missed the mark by calling for new regulations ordering private transfers of firearms to be processed through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System that retailers use to screen gun buyers. That dubious rule would exceed the president’s statutory authority and ignore the problems with the system.

The system is designed to keep guns out of the hands of people who are disqualified from possession by federal law. But it doesn’t always work because its database is incomplete. Six states have submitted fewer than 100 records of people who have been “adjudicated mentally defective” and are ineligible to purchase or possess a firearm. Even our nation’s capital appears to fail to report individuals in this category to the system.

The president can and should work with my organization to fix this failure of the mental-health system. The administration should work to complete the system’s database through the administration of federal grants, similar to our industry’s efforts through the FixNICS campaign to improve reporting laws at the state level.

By working together, we have the potential to improve the background-check system, but the president and his party have to leave behind their political agendas and stop pushing for useless anti-gun restrictions, a solution with little prospect.

[ The Washington Post ]