I don't think it is what most people seem to think it is. Federal data, yep. Records of convictions, and open wants & warrants ought to be in there. What else could there be? Records of ajudication of mental incompetence? Ought to be there, right?
But how often does that happen on a Federal level? very rare. State data ought to be in there, right? Some is. Everything that has been reported by the states. But that is far, far from everything the states have. Also, states often only report records of arrests to the Fed database, they aren't nearly so good about getting case results (especially dismissals) into the Fed's system.
The big buzz right now about mental health, and how we should have state/local data on the "crazies" in the database, to keep them from getting guns runs smack head on up against legally defined privacy rights. Sure, it sounds like a fine idea, BUT it is not simply a question of where do you draw the line on privacy, that line has already been drawn, in existing law. NOW, is it right and proper to bend, break, or just ignore that line (and those laws?)? How is now different from when the law was made, and is the difference enough to warrant a diminishment of everyone's rights?
Every year it prevents tens of thousands of felons from getting firearms.
If this is so, being as how it says right on the 4473 that providing false information or buying for another person is punishable as a felony, right above the sgnature aand date lines, why are there not "tens of thousands" of people prosecuted for attempting to buy a firearm? Seems to me that if a felon or other prohibited person puts down false info, signs the form and the check comes back denying him a firearm because he is a felon, that'd be a slam dunk case, right?
That does not seem to happen, though, and when Joe Biden was asked about it, he said "We don't have time for all that."
during the Clinton years, a couple years after they got the instant check up and running, the administration bragged about how they kept "thousands" of criminals from getting guns. Now, being that a prohibited person trying to buy a gun from an FFL dealer is in itself a crime, got any idea how many of those "criminals" went to jail for breaking that particular law?
I don't know. But I do know that at the same time the administration was claiming "thousands" prevented from getting a gun the number of people they charged with that crime was 40. And we never did hear how many, if any of them were convicted.
As to the idea that a mandatory background check would have stopped the Shandy Hook shooter, it didn't. According to what I hear, the shooter did try to buy a gun from a shop the week before, and was denied by the background check. That didn't stop the shooting. He just KILLED HIS MOTHER and took the guns.
Patrick Purdy, the nut case that shot up the schoolyard in Stockton CA back in 89, which really touched off the "assault weapon" issue, (because he used a semi auto AK47) went through CA's 14 day waiting period and background check, twice
. He bought a pistol, and later another one. Passed the check with flying colors, both times.
It seems that while Mr Prudy was recieving a disability check, because he was mentally unbalanced and unable to work,that little fact was not reported to the folks doing the background checks. In fact, BY LAW, it COULD NOT BE!
In order for any background check system to work it has to have the data, and for it to work properly, the data has to be accurate. AND, it has to be constantly managed. Only the Fed has the capability to even begin to collect and manage the data from all the states, let alone begin to handle it well enough to be somewhat reliable.
I know one fellow who gets delayed by the instant check. Seems his file is flagged. Turns out it is flagged because he has a security clearance.
You might be surprised about what is, and what isn't in their database.
I would say the Fed has a reasonable argument for having and maintaining such a database, since you are buying a gun from a Federally licensed gun dealer. But, to require it from a private citizen is wrong. Guns are not just guns, they are private property as well.
Our government has a proven history of regulating the ownership and sale of some private property, why encourage them to regulate even more?
There are people still alive who can remember when it was a crime in this country to own gold. (there were certain exceptions, jelwelry, coin dealers, etc..) But ordinary citizens could neither buy, nor own gold metal. Yesterday it was gold. Today it's guns. What will it be tomorrow?