by Alan Korwin


Originally posted in 1998
Updated Oct. 3, 2015

It’s well known by now, that of all the people stopped by the Brady law’s FBI background check, very few are arrested—even though it’s a five-year felony for them to try to buy a gun.  And a five-year federal felony to have touched the gun in the gun store. And state offenses in every state in the Union. So why was I stumped when KTAR-Phoenix radio host Pat McMahon asked me on July 28, 1998, live on the air: “Why don’t the police arrest all the Brady criminals they find?”  Why indeed, really, don’t they make the arrests?  I was flummoxed.  Here’s what I’ve learned since then. Credit is given where it’s due.

As of 2015, the Brady Center proudly claims NICS checks have stopped two million firearm sales.
Professor John Lott has determined that most of the stops are not for cause,
but no "official" statement has been issued, and stonewalling is a problem.
The numbers of arrests and convictions are in two digits (numbers are disputed).

More than 200,000,000 background checks have been conducted.
After a person is denied a gun sale, presumably because they are prohibited,
either because they are felons, mentally unfit, in the country illegally or for other reasons,
they are simply set free to roam around with their money, still interested in buying a gun.

Despite this flaw, politicians are seeking a new background check,
at great cost, instead of doing something about the
two million (supposed) criminals already identified and set loose.


Why don't we arrest the Brady Criminals we find?

• Because the Brady law is neither designed nor intended to increase the annual number of federal prosecutions. (the response I got directly from BATF, FBI, White House, they all had the exact same reply)

• Because police have limited resources, must answer to many interests, and apply themselves according to a complex set of pressures. (Attorney Mike Anthony)

• Because police wouldn’t have jobs if they got rid of all the criminals. (Said jokingly)  Because law enforcement is lazy (Also jokingly)  Because there’s no interdepartment cooperation (Not so jokingly) -- All from police departments

• Because while a gun dealer’s call is sufficient to stop a gun sale, it is insufficient grounds to dispatch a team to make an arrest.  This is complicated by the high number of Brady stops that are later reversed, reducing probable cause, but it would be true nonetheless. (Virginia police Capt.) (Florida police Coord.)

• Because the last thing you want is for police to be constantly showing up at gunstores and making arrests of felons who want guns... it’s too potentially dangerous for the customers. (Arizona police Lieut.)

• Because it would be bad for business if customers knew they might get arrested by trying to buy a gun at a gunstore—especially if it’s only for a stupid computer error. (Dealers)

• Because the movie Serpico, good as it was, didn’t eliminate corruption.

• Because a perfect utopian system where all arrests are made—or better yet, no crimes are committed—is a larger issue than why the police don’t make this arrest or that.  Or why some officials actually cooperate in the drug business.  Or sometimes support dictatorships in many places.  Or steal from their own offices. Or murder and abuse people with some frequency.  Or why newspapers herald high-profile holiday-roadblock drunk-driving arrest statistics instead of some meaningful measures of crime.

• Because of the ostrich neurosis, where people would rather not know reality or truth, and instead fabricate feel good laws and idyllic images so they can believe everything is OK, completely regardless of evidence or logic, leaving them in a very pleasant suburban world indeed.

• Because in a perverse way it serves government’s purpose to have crime and disruption, if it increases people’s perceived need for government to fight such things.  In other words, it’s in government’s interest to have crime (and other forms of disaster, disease and strife).  Crime is a main reason you have government—look what you would not need if there was no crime: no laws against crime, no FBI, no state police, no criminal courts and prisons, no bail bond agents... but you can’t say no Army, because the notion of “no crime” stops short of including “no threat from overseas enemies” or terrorists.

• Because a world where all arrests are made is a world you would not recognize, and would not want to live in.

• Because the idea of freedom is in conflict with the notion of “no crime.”  If everyone is free to pursue their pursuits, they’re going to reach points where their interests clash. (Mike Anthony)

• Because the nature of supply and demand requires give and take between the forces of good (arguably the police in this case), and the forces of evil (people deemed criminals by the criminal system).

• Because politics works, just not the way you think it does (Mike Rothfeld).  To draw a parallel, it’s in a drug dealer’s best interests to keep drugs illegal, to keep the government-induced price supports (and excitement!) in place.  If drugs were near legalization, dealers would have to be lobbying against it.

• Because there isn’t enough time for all the arraignments, dockets would gridlock, detention cells would burst, prisons would overflow, and nobody in the system wants to even attempt it.

• Because unless we have more crime and violence we won’t be able to justify taking everybody’s gun away. (Howard White)

• Because the nature of government is ever to grow larger and more controlling, a course along which we are plunging headlong, and this is simply one petty manifestation of that.

• Because politicians pass these fool laws without any regard to how they’re going to apply them, or if they’re even possible, so they can campaign on phony issues that the news media faithfully relays.

• Because it’s a feel good law never intended to capture criminals.  Only people who believe government news reports still think Brady has something to do with stopping criminals.  It never did, it hasn’t, what’s the question.

• Because laws these days are often not about what they purport to be, but instead have hidden agendas which are the true reason for their passage, typically tucked away in mountains of surroundings and obscured in language so difficult that legislators are forced to vote based on vague notions and party lines, without ever reading or knowing what they enact.  (Claire Wolfe).  Even reporters won’t read it before reporting on it. Imagine that. Who does read it? (Another good question!)

• Because the real purpose of the Brady law has nothing to do with guns, which was only a battle cry to help get it passed, but rather with it’s new Part 2 that’s now on line, concerning an FBI-controlled national instant citizen checking system complete with federal ID card and number, with $200 million in funding—and approval it could never have mustered without the Brady thing as a diversion—run by a national police force the 10th Amendment prohibits.

• Because the seemingly noble idea of cooling-off periods is an unsubstantiated concoction not grounded in forensics, but when coupled with the false promise of catching crooks, was effective in selling the scheme to the American public, when the real purpose involves incremental diminution of rights, and eventual gun confiscation by well meaning but tyrannical forces within the bureaucracy.

• Because the real purpose of the Brady law is to build a federal gun-registration infra-structure, and it has been wildly successful.

• Because even if people changed as a species, lost all aggressiveness, irritability, impatience and need for limited resources, all biology would have to change too, away from the present system of everything-eats-everything-else for food. (Mike Anthony)

• Because according to the leaked top-secret government document of the cold war (1967), Report From Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace, enduring peace is neither obtainable nor desirable, given the current nation-state system and the nature of man. (Dell)

• Because if they took it upon themselves to do it, their superiors would yell at them.

• Because at the deepest level, you get what you want in life, so if you want to know what you want, just look at what you have. (Dr. Paul Schulman)



Alan Korwin
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