Tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of the Newtown school mass shooting. Immediately after this happened, there was the usual outrage about gun control. The NRA naturally, railed against any form of gun control. About 10 years ago, the NRA was all in favor of universal background checks for anyone who wanted to purchase a gun. But, suddenly last year that position changed to condemning universal background checks.
As a result of their bullying, blackmail, and outright lying, Congress failed to pass any legislation. The Senate did pass a universal background check law, but the House, as usual, failed to even bring it to a vote. I find it outrageous that Republican lawmakers want to force “drug tests” for anyone getting food stamps, but not universal background checks anyone who wants to get a gun! Could you please explain the logic for that conflict?
We haven’t learned anything from that tragic episode, just like we never learned anything from various similar tragic episodes. In case you are wondering, since that very sad day one year ago, 173 children under the age of 12 have been shot to death in this country! That is right, 173 innocent children under the age of 12 have been shot to death since the Newtown Tragedy! Overall, approximately 30,000 people are shot to death each year in this country!
Let me be very clear! As a retired veteran, I am against the government telling the American People that they cannot own firearms! However, I must also be clear that with the right to bear arms comes personal responsibility to protect those firearms as well. I do not see any problem, or any conflict between the right to bear arms and universal background checks.
For those non-gun owners who may not know what is really being talked about here, let me explain. Federal law requires that people “engaged in the business” of firearms sales must have federal licenses – but doesn’t define what that phrase means. Any business with a federal license must complete a background check on anyone purchasing a gun. So, if for example you go to someplace like Bass Pro Shop, WalMart, etc., you would need to complete a background check to be able to purchase a gun.
However, there are loopholes in the law that allow the sale of guns, even mass purchases at one time, without any background checks. These loopholes are so big, you can drive an M1 Tank through them! Private citizens who wish to sell a weapon can do so without needing to have a background check done on the buyer. If the buyer goes to a gun show, background checks are not required. Several sales off of the internet do not require background checks.
The NRA is very quick to point out that many states, especially in the northeast, have very strict gun laws. They are also quick to point out that gun violence still occurs in those states, which is true. They fail to say that many of the guns that are used in these crimes come from out-of-state sources like the Internet and gun shows in other states. When I was growing up on the south side of Chicago, I knew many gang members. They were not afraid to tell me that they got their weapons mostly from another gang member going “down south to gun shows” to get their guns.
A short two months after Newtown, an American Terrorist came out in a video explaining just how easy it was for any terrorist to go to a gun show and purchase an AR15 assault riffle without any background checks. Then in his own words finished with “what are you waiting for”? Yet the NRA still refused to allow a vote on universal background checks.
But, they got what they wanted. A recent Poll shows that fewer people favor stricter gun control now than they did shortly after Newtown. That is because, we have very short memories. Once a tragedy like this is over and time passes, we forget what happened. That is a real shame on us.
Besides their usual rant about how everyone should be armed to the teeth, the NRA does admit that criminals, people with a history of violence, and the mentally ill should not own a gun. But, without universal background checks, how is anyone to know who they are selling a gun to? Do gun owners and dealers have a built-in “loony detector”? Their own argument shows the need for universal background checks.
I know a lot of gun owners. Some have their guns for hunting. Some have their guns for self-defense. Some have guns because they like target shooting. Some just like to collect guns as part of history. I don’t have a problem with any of my friends owning guns. Nor, do I ever argue against their right to own them. That said, almost every person I know who owns a gun has no problem with universal background checks. Oh, you will get a vicious argument about gun registration or gun control legislation, but they understand that universal background checks are necessary to help ensure guns don’t fall into the wrong hands.
In my opinion, the NRA, which stands for the National Rifleman’s Association, has deviated so far from its intended purpose, they have really become irrelevant in this argument. Yes, they were founded to help defend our right to bear arms. But, they used to be an organization that taught “gun safety” and were reasonable enough to know that those whom they call “bad guys” should not be able to purchase a gun. Yet, they are the major reason these “bad guys” can buy guns!
I am not naïve! I know that universal backgrounds are not the panacea that will stop all of these killings. But, any reduction in the number of these gun violence murders are stopped because universal background checks kept the wrong people from easily obtaining a gun, than it is worth it. We have to stop using arguments looking for absolutes and start thinking rationally on this. Universal background checks are necessary to close the loopholes in the law. How about it Congress, can you give us sensible universal background checks law as a Christmas present?