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Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all all gun sales...

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Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 11/2/2017 Category: Society
Updated: 8 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,947 times Debate No: 104730
Debate Rounds (4)
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November PF Topic:
Resolved: The United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers of ownership.
We will be debating the above (^) resolution, not what is stated in the title of the debate (ran out of characters.)

In response to the recent plague of gun violence and mass shootings, increased gun control (encompassing universal background checks) have been proposed in an effort to combat violent deaths. This debate centers around the United States implementing (a) universal background checks for sales and (b) transfers of ownership.

I oppose the resolution, affirming that universal background checks should not be imposed by the United States government or any other power, including (though not limited to) independent stores. Below are definitions that are unconditionally accepted upon the acceptance of this debate:

Universal Background Check: Requirement of all firearms transactions in the United States to be recorded and go through the NICS - National Instant Criminal Background Check System.
United States: United States of America, Federal Government
Gun Sale: Transaction of firearm typically with monetary gain
Transfer of Ownership: Obtaining a gun through private transaction not necessarily involving trade
Should: Encompasses everything, including: moral obligation, safety of citizens, economic benefit, etc. Not limited to a single factor.

Please use the first round to accept the debate only and refrain from introducing arguments until the latter three rounds. Thank you!

Accepting the debate means unconditional acceptance of all stated above.

Best of luck to whomever accepts. Looking forward to a great debate!


After several shootings in this country, and a plague of gun violence sweeping the nation, it only makes sense that background checks be implemented. They only take a few minutes(1), and can prevent guns getting into the hands of criminals. It is also imperative that the gun show loophole is closed, and that anyone who sells guns be licensed or be prosecuted as a criminal.

In this country the murder rate is astounding when compared to other countries(2), and it is absolutely frightening that the sentiment when responding to an earthquake(which we have no control over) is indistinguishable from that of a mass shooting. It is terrifying that we are at the point where the phrase 'you know the drill' is applicable when dozens of innocent civilians get slaughtered. But that's the reality we have here.

Debate Round No. 1


Before I begin my arguments, I'd like to remind the affirmative side that first round was for acceptance only-- I ask that you post no argument in the fourth round to compensate.

I negate the resolution: the United States should require universal background checks for all gun sales and transfers of ownership. I observe that requiring universal background checks perpetuate racism, endanger the lives of inner city people, and ultimately pose little solvency to the crisis facing the United States of America. Requiring universal background checks are unfair and detrimental to the safety of the American peoples.

Contention 1: Inherent and Systematic Racism

Minorities would be discriminatory affected through the implementation of universal background checks insofar as the United States Justice System carries inherent racism. Universal background checks restrict firearm access to those harboring criminal records, including drug use and petty felonies. The inclusion of petty crimes and drug use in background checks unfairly discriminate against minorities for two reasons:

Subpoint A: The U.S Justice System. Discrimination towards minority males is blatantly obvious in our contemporary justice system. The disproportionate and lengthy incarceration of African-American, Hispanic, and other minority males indicate an inherent and systematic racist undertone in the United States Justice System. In 2013, the FBI released records to the American public concerning arrests and race statistics. Roughly 28.3% of all arrests were African-American; disproportionate, insofar as 13.6% of the American population is African-American [1][2]. In addition, Michelle Alexander, associate professor at Stanford University, authored a stunning book called the New Jim Crow. In this work, she found that roughly 70% of drug incarcerations were minority males [3]. This carries remarkable significance insofar as drug usage, including marijuana, accounts for roughly 50% of the United States prison population [3].

Restricting firearm access to minority males degrades what little safety the inner cities currently have. As reported by Michelle Alexander in a further extension, up to 80% of minority males in select inner cities have criminal records [3]. Since universal background checks, which the affirmative wishes to enforce, restrict access to firearms through the background check system, this would restrict the ability of inner-city minorities to protect themselves. Up to 80% of inner city minorities, many who suffer only from light marijuana use (or other drugs), become defenseless, susceptible to theft, muggings, and murder.

Subpoint B: Gun Control has Racist Origins. The racist origins of gun control signal that further background checks serve only as an appeasement of Caucasian fears. Robert Regoli, associate professor at the University of Colorado, wrote in 2009 that focusing on gun restriction fundamentally stems from one's own racism. He states “gun control allows one to feel safe from… the unbearable threat of coming to grips with… one’s own prejudice and bigotry.”

Perpetuating racist firearm restrictions is detrimental to race relations in the U.S. Albert Memmi, professor of sociology, states that combating racism “is a struggle to be undertaken without without surcease and without concessions” [4]. Allowing racism under the mask of background checks is a concession that the battle against racism can ill afford. Combined with the terminal impact of endangering inner city lives, it has been shown that universal background checks are undeniably racist.

Contention 2: Black Market

Determined criminals will acquire firearms legally or illegally. Universal background checks can be easily circumvented through purchasing a gun on the black market. Criminals, who will not be deterred by universal background checks, will resort to acquiring guns illegally. Law-abiding citizens with petty records will be unable to acquire a gun, left without protection at the hands of criminals. The black market ultimately uproots any solvency of universal background checks, two warrants:

Subpoint A: Prevalence of Black Market Firearms. Guns are readily available on the black market. Frank Miller of Forbes, in a 2013 interview with two ATF agents, reports that firearms are abundant on the black market. A direct quote from an interviewed ATF agent yielded "guns are so readily available on the black market... [sell] only a few hundred dollars above retail" [5]. Black market sellers are untraceable and have no criminal record, and thereby would not be picked up by the enforcement of universal background checks.

In addition, there is historical precedence for the black market in areas with extreme gun control measures. In 1992, David Kopel, a research director, stated that "guns remain readily available on the black market" despite strict measures. He continues by stating this "has not reduced crime," but rather "encouraged burglary" [6]. In areas such as Japan and Holland, the black market has run rampant in the wake of strict gun control measures. The black market, currently a looming presence in the United States of America, will only balloon to hazardous proportions with the requirement of universal background checks.

Subpoint B: Transfer is Untraceable. Minter of Forbes continues that straw criminals with no criminal records can easily purchase guns and subsequently sell them to those with criminal records. These sales are, of course, clandestine and untraceable. John Jacobs, PhD recipient from the University of Chicago, estimates in 2002 that up to "half of guns obtained by criminals have been stolen" [7]. He gives a precise estimate, predicting that roughly 750,000 guns were stolen (and would continue to be stolen) each year. These thefts are inherently untraceable and can be subsequently transferred to criminals. Background checks for transfer are effective if, and only if, the government has knowledge of the transaction. As demonstrated through the black market, the United States Federal Government can not and does not have knowledge of these clandestine transactions.

Therefore, it is evident that background checks have little to no solvency.

Concise Recap

In conclusion, it has been thoroughly demonstrated the background checks unfairly discriminate against minorities and ultimately pose a grave threat to their prosperity. Determined criminals will resort to any means necessary to get a gun whereas abiding citizens will not. This leaves guns in the hands of criminals and renders the common citizen essentially defenseless. The enforcement of a universal background check is fundamentally flawed, poses zero solvency, and is detrimental to the best interests of American citizens.

I will respond to my opponent's specific arguments in the following round.

[4] Memmi, A. "Le Racisme," pp.163-5


Re: Contention 1, Subpoint A.

This point entirely hinges upon the idea that guns create a safer community. That is patently untrue(1). It doesn't make sense that having easier access to highly deadly weapons could possibly make a community safer.

It is also illogical that a flaw in the justice system should stop the justice system from being applied.

Re: Contention 1, Subpoint B.

Here you make the wild, wild assumption that because gun control may disproportionately affect African-Americans, it is, at its core, a racist idea, and that its express purpose is to discriminate. This is a glorious strawman, and when you apply this logic to other things, then it becomes magnificently hilarious. Note that I am using 'racist' as 'with the express purpose of discrimination.'

And without further ado . . .

The housing industry is racist(2). The police system is racist, the justice system, contrary to popular belief, is not meant to uphold the law, rather, it is just meant to be racist. Hell, guns themselves are racist(3).

/s ^^^

So how about you don't call me a racist next time?

Re: Contention 2, Sub A

This argument is essentially "Hey, since criminals will buy guns anyway, let's let them buy them cheaply and easily.""seems legit." It should be obvious why that makes no sense(refer to source (1) if your response is going to be "but civilians will also buy guns to defend themselves").

Also, here are the effects of the Japanese black market "running rampant"(4).

Here's Holland as well(5).

Concise Conclusion

It has been categorically proven that gun control is not a racist institution, and that guns themselves pose a great threat to our prosperity, not a lack thereof. Moreover, the assertion found in my opponent's conclusion that law abiding citizens would not be able to buy guns is deeply incorrect, and is borderline misinformation.

Debate Round No. 2


I remind both my opponent and those who are judging this debate that all rebuttals and points are directed at the opposing stance, not at the opposition themselves.

In this round, I will attack the overarching arguments presented by my opponent before reinforcing the ground that my own reside upon.

Background Checks are Not Effective

In the first round, my opponent incorrectly suggested that the implementation of universal background checks would considerably reduce the acquiration of guns by criminals, primarily by closing the gun show loophole. This is both theoretically and empirically false, two warrants:

(1) Guns are, and will continue to be, readily available outside of retail. C.D Michel, professor at Chapman University, finds in 2013 that “nearly 80 percent of crime guns are outside retail distribution channels” [1]. In theory, universal background checks are ineffective if they fail to address the majority of the issue. The prosperity of the black market offers a viable option for a private firearm transaction, one that remains clandestine, secretive, and ultimately untraceable. Moreover, the transfer of guns cannot reasonably be tracked by the United States government. Closing the gun show loophole is ultimately inconsequential: in the same study, Michel finds less than one percent of crimes were committed by firearms from firearm shows [1].

(2) Background checks and gun control measures have historical and current precedence of failure. In the United States, background checks have flaws that work to undermine the foundation it stands upon. Kevin Cirilli of Politico found in 2013 that "few states are submitting necessary [mental health] records to the government" [2]. In addition, Michael Luo, Pulitzer Prize finalist and gun expert, finds in 2013 that "ggaps in the F.B.I.‘s database of criminal and mental health records, which are consulted during background checks, have allowed thousands of people to buy firearms who should have been barred" [3]. Even if you believe that universal background checks will work satisfactorily, James B. Jacobs finds that background checks are easily bypassed. He reports that "even in countries with strong prohibitory regimes, criminals are able to obtain handguns relatively easily on the black market" [4].

Background checks are ineffective in theory and reality. Numerous flaws and holes work to undermine the foundation of safety they're based upon. Criminal mindset and rampant black markets have shown that criminals will simply acquire their guns from private, untraceable sellers. Ultimately, background checks have little to no solvency regarding protecting the American people.

Justice System is Fundamentally Racist

My opponent brushes aside the bulk of the racism argument via bringing up semantics of racism. This is both not viable and borderline worrisome approach for two reasons.

(1) Changing the definition of "racism" doesn't mitigate the terminal impact. My opponent attempts to supply his own definition of racism which is the "express purpose of discrimination." While this is a viable definition, it does nothing to mitigate the impacts shown in the second round. There is clear and abundant prejudice in the United States Justice System, as evidenced by the fact that roughly 28.3% of all arrests were African-American while 13.6% of the American population is African-American [5][6]. Whether or not this is, by literal definition, "racist" is ultimately inconsequential to the resolution. The impacts remain regardless of the definition agreed upon.
(2) Listing other things that are racist doesn't mitigate the terminal impact. Whether or not the housing system is racist is not pertinent to the resolution. Whether or not guns are racist (sarcasm notwithstanding) is unrelated to the point that the United States Justice System has blatant discrimination, prejudice, and racism.

Until my opponent makes a refutation pertinent to the "racism" argument (as opposed to simply bringing up semantics), I urge those judging to consider this point dropped by the affirmative and extended by the negative side.

Guns Create a Safer Community

My opponent fails to show that guns make a society substantially more dangerous. In addition, he does not satisfactorily present evidence that suggest that the danger background checks offset triumph over the issues (racism, black market) it imposes. Two responses:

(1) Harvard Study. My opponent unsuccessfully attempts to refute that guns create a safer community through presenting a source without proper analysis. His source from Harvard University is evidently geared towards a specific subset of the population. The statistics presented by the article specifically state that it concerns only "a woman living in that home-" which is substantially less of an impact than my opponent stated. Moreover, this source is not directly related with the notion that guns create a more dangerous community; it's foundationless sourcethrowing that should be condemned by those viewing this debate.
(2) Japan and Holland. The affirmative side refutes the Japan and Holland black markets by displaying statistics suggesting gun violence has gone down. Whether or not this is empirically true is inconsequential insofar as the decline in homicide rates are a result of extreme gun control measures; they're not limited to background checks alone. Moreover, a considerable portion of the United States population will not stand for the measures in Japan currently. Passing shooting tests, reporting ammunition storage, and overwhelming policing that is present in Japan will not be enforced in America. For these reasons, it's foolish to attribute Japan's decline in gun control measures to background checks. It's foolish to believe that just because the terminal impacts of the black market in Japan aren't drastic, that they won't be in America.

In addition, my opponent misunderstands the black market argument, confusingly paraphrasing the argument as "hey, since criminals will buy guns anyway, let's let them buy them cheaply and easily." This is a false representation of the argument. To correctly paraphrase: since criminals will resort to the black market insofar as their criminal mindset will not be altered by the deterrence of background checks, the baseline protection theoretically offered by background checks are largely uprooted."

Overall, the opposition fails to show that guns make a community more dangerous. Their rebuttal of Japan and Holland is fundamentally flawed due to basic differences between the population of Japan and America. The black market is and remains a viable and strong argument towards the negation of the resolution.

Where the Debate Currently Stands

The U.S Justice System - Racism argument was responded to, extremely weakly, and response was refuted.
Gun Control has Racist Origins - Racism argument garnered no specific response. Consider it dropped.
Prevalence of Black Market Firearms argument was responded to indirectly with Japan and Holland. This response was refuted insofar as differences between Japan and USA citizens render this argument ineffective.
Transfer is Untraceable: Completely dropped by affirmative.

As the debate currently stands, the negative's arguments are completely intact. The affirmative's contentions have been thoroughly refuted. Thus, I strongly urge a negative ballot.




In this round, I will instruct my oppenent to reread my argument, as it is evident, from his rebuttals, that he has not comprehended them.

Parte Uno
Background Checks Are, Indeed, Effective.

Partito Uno

This argument is based on how the black market is rampant, but the logic of "criminals will buy guns anyway, so LET'S JUST LET THEM BUY GUNS ANYWAY LOL," is immediately apparent to be completely devoid of any sense. And anyway, this argument doesnt even hit at the core of the issue. More on that is in the next section.

Partito Dos

"historical precedence of failure." Uhhh . . . (1), (2). Not correct. Not. Correct. The opposed seems to think that gun control's success is measured on how well it stops people from getting guns. That is a strawman, because a) I am measuring effectiveness based on how well it prevents gun violence, and b) wanting gun control for the sake of fewer guns(rather than the effects of fewer guns, e.g. fewer shootings) is rabidly unconstitutional because of the second amendment. Please, rather than trying to show that gun control doesn't stop gun ownership, try show that it doesn't stop gun violence.

Parte Dos
Justice System is fundamentally racist

My opponent brushes aside the bulk of my rebuttal via only focusing on my clarification.

You have missed the point, sir. I'm not going to retype my entire argument, but the response to the opening section was essentially "Even though the justice system is certainly flawed, it shouldn't stop us from applying it." Reread it though. Seriously.

the retype continues

After highlighting the fact that the flaws in the justice system might negatively affect gun control's application, you then made a massive leap and said that because the effects of gun control might be racially unfair, then the entire concept of gun control is racist. It was then topped off with a wild ad hominem, which stated that anyone who supports gun control is a racist.

This is the context in which the sentence was written. I was about to take my opponent's logic that anything which disproportionately affects a certain race is fundamentally racist.

So I type it out, and I see: "the housing system is racist." I think 'hmm, the most common interpretation of 'racist' makes that statement entirely true, and not hyperbolic at all.' Then I add that qualifier, saying that by 'racist,' i mean 'meant to opress black people, by design'.


Parte tres
Guns create a safer community.

Partito uno
The Harvard Study
You somehow managed to cherry pick out of a single paragraph article, but at the bottom it says that 64% of scientists believe that guns make a community more dangerous, and only 5% believe they make a community safer.

Partito dos
How about sunrise laaand? (it's japan)
You respond to this by using argumentum ad populum. Sweet.

Oh wait, at the end you pin it down to population differences. Please then, tell me why the US had 5600 times Japan's gun deaths in 2014(3), and the US only has 2.5x more people(323÷127)?

Partito tres
Criminal Mindset
Because Europe has an even bigger black market for guns than the US(your own article), how come "criminal mindset" isn't causing them to have a comparable gun death rate? Here's the comparison(4).

Argument insofar
I'm winning lol.

/s ^^^

Debate Round No. 3


Before I conclude my arguments, I'd like to point out to those judging this debate that the affirmative's conduct is substandard. His refutations resort to false paraphrasing of the negative's arguments and aimless sourcethrowing without proper explanation of the content that they hold. In contrast, I have attempted to thoroughly demonstrate the validity of my sources, the content they hold, and the terminal impact they impose. For these reasons alone, a negative ballot should be casted.

In addition, I ask the opposing side to not argue in this round since he neglected to use the first round for acceptance.

Regarding Japan and the U.S.A

My opponent is wildly misdirected regarding my refutation of Japan's low gun crimes. The population discrepancy between the United States and Japan is not based on quantity alone. A sizable portion of the U.S population is vehement in their right to own firearms. In 2015, Jeremy Diamond of CNN reported that roughly half of Americans oppose stricter gun control laws [1]. Japan's success in gun control is incomparable to the U.S, and the resolution, for two reasons.

(1) The United States population would not stand for the extreme measures in Japan. Per the affirmative's own source, acquiring a gun in Japan requires an all-day class, shooting range lessons, and a written exam [2]. Furthermore, handguns are banned outright- this would be a blatant infraction of the Second Amendment (District of Columbia v. Heller found that individual has right to possess handgun) and cannot be enforced in the United States in any world. According to a study cited in The Guardian, 75% of American citizens believe the ability to acquire a gun is essential to their freedom [3]. Even if District of Columbia v. Heller was overturned, the American citizens would not stand for the repressive gun control measures in Japan.
(2) It boils down to people control more than gun control. David Kopel, research director, wrote in 1988 (in the wake of strict gun control measures) that "Japan's low crime rate has almost nothing to do with gun control, and everything to do with people control [4]. With or without guns, Kopel finds that crime rate is inherently lower in Japan due to social structure.

In 2017, Tom McCarthy of the Guardian wrote that the failure of United States gun control essentially boils down to a powerful gun lobby, beliefs of the citizens, and political partisanship [3]. The political and cultural atmosphere of guns in the United States render it effectively unique; other countries, which harbor fundamentally different populations, do not set a template for successful gun control in the United States.

Even if you believe gun control is effective in preventing gun violence, it has been shown that universal background checks play little to no role. Rather, ammunition tracking, written tests, training, and population control are the main sources attributed to Japan's success. These measures will not be imposed in the United States in any world for reasons presented above.

Regarding the Racism of the Justice System

Again, my opponent misunderstands the roots of this argument. I'm not arguing that the Justice System shouldn't be applied, as my opponent confusingly insinuates, I'm arguing that it's current enforcement shows prejudice, racism, and discrimination towards minorities in the United States. I win this argument for two reasons.

(1) The United States Justice System is empirically prejudiced. My opponent fails to respond to the two figures (13.6% of population is African American; they make up 28% of prison population). Consider this argument dropped by the affirmative.
(2) Background checks rely on criminal records. As the prejudice of the United States Justice System has been satisfactorily shown and dropped by the affirmative, he also drops that background checks are discriminatory. If a higher amount of African-Americans have unjust criminal records, then a higher amount of African-Americans will be barred from owning a gun due to unjust measures. This is, at the very least, discriminatory.

My opponent fails to adequately respond to either point shown above. I urge the judge to weigh this debate heavily according to the racism of the Justice System. As Albert Memmi, professor of sociology, tells us, combating racism “is a struggle to be undertaken without without surcease and without concessions” [5]. Unjustly preventing many minorities from owning a gun is a concession towards racism that cannot be afforded.

In addition, the volatile nature of select inner cities is unique insofar as self-protection is practically necessary for survival.

Black Market Argument

This debate ultimately boils down to whether or not the effectiveness of universal background checks offset the flaws, the prejudice, and the backlash that would stem from its implementation. The black market should be, and is, the deciding point in this debate. Two reasons.

(1) The affirmative concedes that universal background checks have no solvency towards the majority of guns used in crimes. As stated in round three, roughly 80% of guns are obtained either illegally or though untraceable transfer. Universal background checks pose no solvency for these untraceable transactions, which is additionally conceded by the affirmative. Therefore, the affirmative concedes that universal background checks are largely ineffective due to the prevalence of firearms on the black market.
(2) The affirmative concedes that the black market issue will worsen. There was no response to the negative's argument that determined criminals will not be deterred by background checks. The black market, where guns can be obtained at or near retail price, is and will become a viable alternative for criminals, worsening the already-drastic situation of the United States Black Market.

The firearm situation is effectively unique in the United States due to population uniqueness presented in the Japan refutation earlier in the round. Comparing the black market to other countries, such as Great Britain, is ineffective insofar as the laws, social structure, and overall atmosphere towards guns is drastically different.

Voting Points

This debate should result in a negative ballot according to the following points, which were explained thoroughly in this round.

(1) Racism argument. It has been shown that the U.S Justice system is prejudiced, resulting in a higher criminal record rate for minorities. Due to the inherent nature of universal background checks, this prevents minorities from obtaining a gun for racial reasons.
(2) Black Market. The black market in the United States would be worsened by universal background checks due to (a) unique criminal mindset and (b) existing prevalence of firearms.
(3) Background checks ineffective. Affirmative fails to respond to specific flaws in the background checks, which encompass faulty mental health records, apathy from states in sending specific criminal records, and errors due to sheer magnitude of system.

Due to perpetuating racism through barring minority firearm possession, the unique worsening of the black market, backlash, and the inherent errors in the universal background check system, it has been shown that the negative effects of universal background checks ultimately outweigh any positive benefits. For these reasons, I strongly urge a negative ballot.

Thank you.

[5] Memmi, A. "Le Racisme," pp.163-5


Read the beginning of round 2.

Vote positive!
Debate Round No. 4
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by arugula278 8 months ago
Yeah I get the criticism of my conduct, and some may get offended, whatever. But what was the problem with my sources? Did they not support my points? Was it something else?
Posted by thomasihkim 8 months ago
Well I can't vote yet since I haven't done 3 debates, but this is my "vote"

The decision immediately goes to the Con due to the misconduct of the Pro. Debate by nature is supposed to encourage the respectful discussion regarding a topic, not one where language like "LOL" is thrown around in a negative way that can be judged to attack the opposing debater rather than their arguments.

The other reason is just that the con's voting points stand true throughout the round. Pro doesn't have any solid warrant or valid evidence (valid meaning sourced/cited) for their args. As nitpicky as it sounds, there's no good reason to buy into the Pro's args if they aren't well supported compared to the Con's.

Best of luck to both debaters.

No votes have been placed for this debate.