Before everyone goes nuts and crazy about the amendment that the sore-loser Republicans inserted into the background-check bill (H.R. 8) which yesterday cleared the House, I’m going to explain what the language means and doesn’t mean. The problem is that what Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said about the background-check process (“Well, first of all, if he fails a background check because he’s illegally in the country, that means the system knows he’s illegally in the country. It means they already know that — so what’s the point of reporting him?”) isn’t really true. But what the GOP said about this stupid amendment also isn’t true.
The amendment says that when someone fails a background check because he/she is an undocumented immigrant, that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, our new Gestapo known as the ICE, has to be notified so that the individual can be found, prosecuted and charged with all sorts of things. I don’t believe, incidentally, that the amendment contains a specific method for making all of that happen. In other words, after the FBI-NICS people fail to approve a transaction, who picks up the phone and calls the ICE?
Here’s what happens when the (hated or beloved – take your pick) background check occurs. The buyer of the gun fills out fields 1 through 10 on the form and gives name, address, date of birth, all the usual identifiers. The buyer then gives a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’ to 9 questions covering the various ‘prohibited’ categories (i.e., felon, fugitive, mental ‘defective,’ – I love that one – and so forth.) If the buyer says ‘yes’ to any of those questions, the FBI denies the sale. If the buyer says ‘no’ to any of those questions but the person’s name turns up in one of the databases used by the FBI, the sale is also either prohibited or delayed (the notorious 3-day delay) until more information can be found.
You should know, by the way, that neither the dealer nor the customer is told why a specific sale was denied or delayed. The customer will be told if he decides to appeal the decision, the dealer is left in the dark. And here comes the tricky part. The customer must also affirm or deny that he/she is a citizen and produce some kind of government ID to validate his/her current address. But there are currently 42 states which will issue a driver’s license to an undocumented immigrant either because they want everyone who drives to have a license, or because they have agreed to issue a license to anyone covered by the DACA program, which enrolls ‘illegals’ up to age thirty-one.
So the guy who walks into a gun shop, produces a driver’s license and says he’s a citizen is going to fly through the background check process unless the FBI finds that he’s committed some kind of serious crime or is listed in their database for some other disqualifying event. In other words, the authors of that stupid amendment are simply grandstanding by inserting some language about reporting ‘illegals’ to the ICE when said individuals try to legally purchase a gun.
Pace Jerry Nadler, the only way that someone could fail a background check because they are here illegally is if the individual actually admitted their illegal status at the time they were filling out the background-check form. And anyone doing that should be denied a gun simply because he’s beyond dumb.
If I were someone in the country illegally and wanted to get my hands on a gun, I’m not going to get anywhere near the FBI when it comes to buying a gun or when it comes to anything else. The FBI-NICS system has been operating for more than 20 years and everyone who hasn’t been brain-dead since 1998 knows what the phrase ‘law-abiding’ means when it comes to buying or owning a gun.
When it comes to gun violence, there are more important things to worry about than whether some GOP members of Congress want to score a few points with the anti-immigration gang.