The National Rifle Association, which once supported the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), has recently opposed efforts to close this growing loophole. One argument often recurs: criminals won't submit to background checks.
This report demonstrates that their claim is both false and true. Criminals undeniably do submit to background checks: in 2010 alone, federal and state checks blocked more than 150,000 gun sales to prohibited buyers. But criminals also undeniably avoid background checks -- by exploiting the private sale loophole. Indeed, one measure of NICS's success is that it appears to have forced a growing number of criminals to seek out private sellers since the system was established in 1998.