Universal background checks make sense
MARTY MOOREPervasive gun ownership is a fact of American life, and opponents need to get over it. Liberals may wish to alter the gun culture, but we are never going to be Sweden.
Published: January 24, 2013
Published: January 24, 2013
We have 80 million people owning 300 million guns, as well as a Second Amendment and court decisions that protect gun ownership. That's reality. But it doesn't mean the country must tolerate the mulishness of the National Rifle Association's top management when it comes to commonsense regulations, and a good place to begin is fixing the "gun show loophole" with universal background checks. Here's why.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives found about 40 percent of gun sales in 33 states at some 4000 gun shows are made by unlicensed vendors who aren't required to do background checks or demand purchase permits. Using a formula called Time-to-Crime, or TTC, the ATF determined 26,000 guns obtained in this manner are used in crimes each year including many of the 8500 homicides.
Gun proponents point to Washington, Chicago and Los Angeles as cities with stringent gun regulations yet having among the highest rates of gun violence and homicide in the country as "proof" strict gun laws don't work. What they fail to account for is the proximity to those cities of Virginia, Indiana and Nevada which rank seventh, eighth and ninth in number of guns trafficked to other states.
Forty-nine percent of all guns involved in crimes crossed state lines from just 10 exporting states with the laxest gun show regulations such as those three. Conversely for the ten states that most tightly regulate gun shows only 4.6 percent of the guns turned-up in crimes in other states.
Since 1994, 1.8 million sales to those ineligible to buy a gun such as felons, domestic abusers and the mentally ill have been blocked by background checks. Do you suppose those 1.8 million expectant buyers simply gave up or might they have obtained weapons through unregulated gun show sales, straw-man purchases, the Internet, flea markets, pawnshops and other "private sales"?
We're already checking the background of 60 percent of buyers without any significant inconvenience to legitimate ones so it's simply farcical for the NRA to rail against universal background checks as an infringement on Second Amendment rights.
NRA President Wayne LaPierre insists, "The only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun." Newly enhanced and universal background checks at the point of original sale and subsequent sale in the secondary markets will not catch every bad guy but doesn't it make sense to do everything possible to keep him from getting a gun in the first place?
Marty Moore is a freelance writer living in New Port Richey.