NEED FOR NATIONAL CRIMINAL DATABASE THAT’S ACCURATE
The last article I wrote broached the subject that there is no such thing as a national criminal conviction database – despite calls for a national criminal database check for everyone seeking to buy a firearm.
What’s needed in this country, obviously, is such a database that not only is up-to-date, but also is constantly being updated. Unfortunately, saying such a database is needed and making it a reality are two radically different things. Saying that it’s needed is easy. Creating one would be extremely difficult – if not impossible.
First, federal legislation would probably be required mandating that every court clerk in every county in the United States send in every conviction for the last seven years to a new central repository that could be accessed by anyone with a legitimate need to know. That task, in itself, would probably take years, assuming everyone could agree on what is meant by the term “conviction.” Would every conviction, both felony and misdemeanor be included? What about those states where a convicted felon can request that his or her file be sealed if the conviction is for something other than a violent or sexual offense? Do we really need conviction records of traffic offenses? How far back is far enough? Seven years? Ten years? Forever? How long would it take to go through every docket book in every county in every state and send in every conviction record? How many extra people would each county have to employ to complete the task? Finally, how often would each county be required to update their records and send them in?
Suffice it to say, the task of really creating an accurate and up-to-date criminal database would be a monumental task that would probably take years to complete. And still more information would be required to use such a database effectively, if it existed. Name, but which name? Single or married name? And what about people who have their name legally changed. Name at birth? Name at time of conviction?
What about people with exactly the same names? That question suggests disclosing a Social Security number and date of birth in order to purchase a firearm. What are the chances of identify theft under the foregoing scenario? What protection would there be from the unauthorized use of such a database?
Well, the list of imponderables goes on and on, even if locally elected court clerks could be mandated by the federal government to undertake the effort. As can be seen, saying that we need a national criminal database is one thing; creating it, quite another!