Universal Background Check: What Does It Mean?

Universal Background Check: What Does It Mean?

Universal background checks have become a contentious issue in the United States, with proponents arguing that they are an essential tool for reducing gun violence, while opponents claim that they could infringe on individuals’ Second Amendment rights and be difficult to enforce. Despite the controversy, there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that universal background checks can be effective in reducing gun-related deaths and injuries. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of universal background checks, including what they are, their history, and their effectiveness. We’ll also examine some of the criticisms that have been raised against them and provide some additional context to help you better understand this complex issue. 

Basic Info

Universal background check refers to the process of conducting a comprehensive and thorough background check on an individual before allowing them to purchase firearms. This check includes a contact information search, which aims to verify an individual’s identity and ensure that they are not prohibited from owning or using firearms due to criminal records, mental health issues, or other factors.

The Idea

The idea of universal background checks emerged in response to the growing concern over gun violence in the United States. The use of firearms in violent crimes, including mass shootings, has become a serious public safety issue, and lawmakers and advocates have sought ways to reduce gun-related deaths and injuries. The concept of universal background checks is seen as a practical and effective solution that could help prevent dangerous individuals from accessing firearms.

The Studies

Studies have shown that universal background checks can be effective in reducing gun violence. By requiring all gun buyers to undergo a background check, regardless of where they purchase the firearm, the system can help identify and prevent individuals with a history of violence or mental illness from obtaining guns. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is the primary system used for conducting these checks, and it has successfully blocked many attempted gun purchases by prohibited individuals.

The Violence Prevention Research Program (VPRP) at the University of California, Davis conducted a study in 2018 that looked at the impact of universal background checks on gun-related deaths in California. The study found that the implementation of comprehensive background checks in the state was associated with a 15% decrease in firearm homicide rates and a 10% decrease in firearm suicide rates.

The study also found that the decrease in firearm homicide rates was more pronounced in urban areas, where there are higher rates of gun violence. The researchers concluded that universal background checks are an effective tool for reducing gun violence, and that they may be particularly effective in urban areas where gun violence is a significant problem.

It’s worth noting that this study is just one of many that have been conducted on the effectiveness of universal background checks, and that some studies have found more modest or mixed results. However, the overall body of evidence suggests that universal background checks are an important component of efforts to reduce gun violence and improve public safety.


Despite its potential benefits, universal background checks have faced criticism from opponents who argue that the system could be used to create a national gun registry and infringe on individuals’ Second Amendment rights. Some have also raised concerns about the effectiveness of the system, pointing to the fact that some prohibited individuals have still been able to obtain firearms through illegal means. There are several reasons for the criticism of Universal Background Check. Let’s look at each of them closer.

Enforcement challenges

Critics argue that implementing universal background checks may be difficult to enforce, particularly in cases where firearms are sold or transferred between private individuals or at gun shows. They also argue that the system could be prone to errors and inaccuracies, which could result in individuals being wrongly denied access to firearms.


Some opponents of universal background checks argue that the system could be expensive to implement and maintain, and that these costs could be passed on to law-abiding gun owners in the form of increased fees or taxes.

Criminals will find a way

Critics suppose that criminals and other prohibited individuals will still find ways to obtain firearms, even if universal background checks are implemented. They point to the fact that many guns used in crimes are obtained through illegal channels, such as theft or straw purchases, and that these individuals are unlikely to undergo background checks even if they are required by law.

Infringement on individual rights

Some critics believe that universal background checks could infringe on law-abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights by creating additional hurdles for purchasing firearms. They argue that the system could be used to unfairly deny individuals their right to own firearms, and that it could be used as a tool for government overreach and control.

It’s worth noting that while these criticisms have been raised, many advocates and experts still believe that universal background checks are an important step in reducing gun violence and improving public safety.


In conclusion, universal background checks are a critical tool for reducing gun violence in the United States. While there may be some concerns and criticisms, the evidence suggests that implementing such checks can help keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals and make our communities safer.