The PJ Tatler

GOP and NRA Back Stricter Federal Background Check

Man bites dog, or in this case, the GOP and NRA back stricter federal background checks. From the Associated Press:

A leading Republican senator [John Cornyn of Texas] proposed a National Rifle Association-backed bill Wednesday that he said would make the federal background check system for gun buyers more effective and bolster programs for treating people with mental illness.

The measure drew criticism from groups advocating stricter controls over firearms, who said it doesn’t go far enough and singled out provisions they said would make it easier for some unstable people to obtain deadly weapons.

The bill would further obscure the checks and balances of federalism by leveraging federal funding to compel state cooperation with federal processes.

Under Cornyn’s bill, states sending at least 90 percent of their records on people with serious mental problems to the federal background check database would get law enforcement grant increases of up to 5 percent. States providing less than that could see grants cut by similar amounts.

Such means may prove more egregious than the ends. Why can’t states be left to establish their own background check systems, if they so desire? We can have the argument over whether states have the constitutional power to restrict gun ownership and sales. But wouldn’t that be a preferable argument to blanket federal legislation?