The implementation of universal background checks for gun purchasers are a pretty popular gun control measure. A recent Gallup public opinion poll found that if a law requiring criminal background checks was put to a vote, a whopping 91% of Americans would support it.

But if background checks for gun owners are acceptable, why would the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission be warning employers against performing background checks for potential employees?

Last April, the EEOC released new regulations directing businesses to hire more convicted felons and other ex-offenders because background checks that weed out these candidates are… racist:

Though blacks make up only 13% of the U.S. population, more blacks were arrested nationwide for robbery, murder and manslaughter in 2009 than whites, according to the FBI. The imprisonment rate for black men “was nearly 7 times higher than White men and almost 3 times higher than Hispanic men,” notes the EEOC. These statistical disparities inspired the EEOC to rewrite the corporate hiring handbook to level the playing field between “protected groups” and the rest of the workforce.

Most businesses perform criminal background checks on job applicants, but the EEOC guidance frowns on such checks and creates new legal tripwires that could spark federal lawsuits. One EEOC commissioner who opposed the new policy, Constance Barker, warned in April that “the only real impact the new Guidance will have will be to scare business owners from ever conducting criminal background checks. . . . The Guidance tells them that they are taking a tremendous risk if they do.”

If an employer’s background check uncovers any applicant’s criminal offenses, the EEOC now demands that the company complete an “individualized assessment” that demonstrates a “business necessity” not to hire the applicant.  In other words, the burden of proof is on the employer, not the applicant.  And if, by chance, the EEOC is not satisfied with the employer’s assessment, they risk being charged with race discrimination.

As NRO’s Roger Clegg adds, new lawsuits are popping up following the release of the EEOC’s new regulations and the criminal class is quickly becoming the government’s newest protected class.  A new federal lawsuit filed in California actually alleges that “policies that categorically exclude individuals with felony convictions” have a “disparate impact on African-Americans.”  Therefore, a rule which bans ex-convicts from coaching college and high school basketball is discriminatory and unlawful.

Let’s assume for a moment that the EEOC’s logic is correct — that criminal background checks do keep a disproportionate number of African Americans from finding gainful employment.  If this sort of practice is unacceptable, shouldn’t the Obama administration also oppose background checks for gun ownership on the same premise?  Wouldn’t criminal background checks for guns mean that a disproportionate number of African Americans aren’t free to exercise their Second Amendment rights?  Shouldn’t gun shop owners be similarly directed not to perform such background checks for gun purchases so as to avoid prosecution for racial discrimination?