Another Tragedy Politicized

President Obama says: “we spend huge amounts of money every year fighting terrorism, yet are unwilling, at the national level, to take even minor steps (like requiring background checks on all gun sales nationally) to stop gun violence.

I’m not an insensitive person who doesn’t care about tragedies like that which has just occurred in Roseburg Oregon. Any sane person witnessing such a tragedy has to be saddened by this senseless act of violence.

I am disturbed by the President immediately taking the opportunity to push for a political agenda to ultimately eliminate the private ownership of firearms in the U.S. That is the ultimate objective, even if only minor incremental steps can be taken to achieve the final goal. He like many others, are more than willing to appeal to our emotions right after such an incident. Using the same tactic which Rahm Emmanuel while White House Chief of Staff., now mayor of Chicago, espoused. His idea is the basis for moving forward a previously unpopular agenda when the timing becomes right, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.

I don’t wish to be part of a constant political discussion which for decades hasn’t really come up with workable solutions. First, what the President said was misleading, background checks are required on all “legal” gun sales throughout the entire United States. The only exception is private sales between individuals. This is Federal law and despite the rhetoric, has nothing to do with prevention of what has happened.

Here is the universal background requirement to legally sell a firearm anywhere in the United States.

The National Instant Criminal Background Check System, or NICS, is all about saving lives and protecting people from harm—by not letting guns and explosives fall into the wrong hands. It also ensures the timely transfer of firearms to eligible gun buyers.

Mandated by the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993 and launched by the FBI on November 30, 1998, NICS is used by Federal Firearms Licensees (FFLs) to instantly determine whether a prospective buyer is eligible to buy firearms or explosives. Before ringing up the sale, cashiers call in a check to the FBI or to other designated agencies to ensure that each customer does not have a criminal record or isn’t otherwise ineligible to make a purchase. More than 100 million such checks have been made in the last decade, leading to more than 700,000 denials.

Now here’s my problems with the existing system. Statistics show few people are followed up by a visit from law enforcement if they were turned down after a background check. Any convicted felon should automatically be investigated if they attempt to purchase a firearm through legal channels. Obviously, just like drugs, there’s going to be an underground traffic of firearms. You can’t stop it, even though that’s not permitted.

The federal background check needs to link to a mental health database. Those who have diagnosed problems such as violence, depression, or suicide, need to be linked into this system. The theater shooter in Colorado was receiving mental health treatment. The doctor testified, James Holmes had serious mental health issues. He should have been denied the purchase of a firearm.

After John F Kennedy was assassinated, firearms can’t be purchased through mail order. A federal firearms licensed dealer can be used to complete an online or mail order purchase. The seller must receive and verify the active FFL information before they complete the transaction. The buyer is still required to go through a background check and pickup the firearm from the FFL dealer if this background check is approved.

The so called gun show loophole is more hype than fact. If you wish to purchase a firearm at a gun show, only licensed vendors can sell at these shows, so a background check is still required before purchase. The “loophole”, is any individual can walk around with a firearm for sale. This means a private party could sell to anyone in a private sale. The law allows a private party to sell, or give firearms to anyone, at a show or in their home. There are some people who want that to be changed. In practical terms, it’s not a workable idea. The statistics don’t show private sales between individuals at a gun show to be a problem. The reason this isn’t a problem is rather simple. These shows are watched closely and attended by local police. If you’re someone that shouldn’t be seen buying a gun in public, these are not a good place for an illegal private party transaction.

Theft of guns, private “underground” sales, illegal transfer of firearms does exist, but that’s the part, even with new laws, isn’t going to be any more effective than stopping illegal drug sales or prohibition did for alcohol.

Firearms laws exist, but in my opinion, need better enforcement and the background check include those with serious mental health issues.

References

Self-defense is the first law of nature. Each person owns his or her own life and no other person has a right to take that life. Those who would attempt to stop you from defending yourself, are attacking the very right from which all other rights are derived, protection of one’s own life.
– John Locke

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