A “Libertarian” Case for Background Checks?

Well, that’s what the New York Times calls it, but it seems like an Orwellian abuse of the word. The piece is by the Cato Institute’s Robert A. Levy, and the only thing “libertarian” I can find in it is Levy’s claim to be one.

The most obvious defect, of course, is that Levy seems to endorse letting the state decide who “should” be “allowed” (or not allowed) to buy firearms. But beyond that, he endorses additional government spending and an increase in federal police manpower:

Currently, dealers can charge up to $125 for background checks. If these fees are supposed to promote public safety, the taxpayers — and not just law-abiding gun owners — should foot some of the bill. And more F.B.I. staff members to manage the database would also help expedite the process.

If Levy and Cato want to argue for compromise on this issue, well, I disagree with them, but more importantly I wish they’d be careful not to confuse people by putting a “libertarian” label on their argument.

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