Current Trends

As more and more things have been dropped from federal gun legislation, banning of the assault rifle, high capacity magazines, limiting the size of clips, as lawmakers, often also NRA supporters, fight universal background checks, attempted regulation and firearm sales conducted on the internet, people stand aghast wondering how their opposition makes any sense. How can they be against protecting 7 year olds from madmen wielding guns whose design is to kill as many living things as possible in the shortest amount of time? However it may not be that simple, when actually listening to what those who oppose background checks are saying several key points keep resurfacing; chief among them the ineffectiveness of legislation being proposed, passed on the state level, reminders that Columbine happened in the midst of an assault weapons ban, some who believe no matter the topic of to-date, introduced legislation on background checks, assault weapons, size of clips it doesn’t address other components of how people like Adam Lanza are able to commit their heinous acts, i.e. mental health. More have concerns any further legislation will only come down on the law abiding citizen and do nothing about the obviously disturbed who manage to find weapons to carry out deranged plans; unfortunately there is evidence to corroborate their claim and several details the public may not be aware of when it comes to the subject of background checks as well as the subsequent parts and pieces of related laws that have to be in place, operational for any new legislation to serve a functional purpose.

 For example, the older women in above video says everyone is for background checks that work, quickly showing the ones we have don’t, bringing up false positives that kept people who should have been able to purchase a gun from doing so, also noted was how ineffective it was at actually prosecuting people who needed to be on other charges or for trying to buy one when they knew they were barred from the privilege. Additionally multiple news outlets have reported a background check is only as good as the database you run it against; if you run it only against your local database you’re going to get one result, against an FBI/federal database, potentially another. On top of that lists such as the no fly list are in a completely different place all together; similarly there is no centralized database that shares arrest records nationally between all 50 states, something that would have saved 4 cops gunned down at a diner after the man was arrested in another state on a minor charge, a totality of events transpiring shortly after this man was let out of jail on good behavior and belief he had turned his life around post commuting a violent crime, serving years in jail as punishment. In fact there is at least one state in the union, in these United States of America that does not have a state registry, available to law enforcement, of felons not allowed to own guns because of their felony status. Forgotten too is the extensive backlog present in almost every existing system which inevitably causes people to come up clean on said check due to how long it takes to get up to date information into the appropriate database. Then there is the reality of the time it takes to input most current information into a registry/database, backlog or no; smart criminals, people determined to own a gun, individuals who believe their right to own a gun should not have been taken away to begin with will use that window to purchase as many guns as they want, going to multiple sellers to avoid being flagged under their obligation to report multiple sales. Either set of persons those wrongfully denied a gun through a false flag background check or someone believing they should maintain their right to own a gun, could become angry enough to by one illegally and commit a rampage based solely on aforementioned experience trying to exercise their legal right.    

Likewise not mentioned is how, under currently discussed legislation, gun shows, private sellers, person to person gun sellers/sales are going to function; requiring a background checks is a first step but are people who want to sell their hunting rifle to their relative or a friend going to have to go through an intermediary in order to run the required background check seeing as they don’t have access to the same databases licensed gun dealers do?  If that is the case how long will it take to set up said intermediaries and what could happen in the meantime with gun sales of this nature; if not, are private sellers and gun shows going to rely on online background check services for a fee which are varying degrees of accurate depending on which one you use? Next are they going to find themselves behind bars for using an inferior checking system, thus selling a gun to someone they thought was clean? At the same time also unclear is how buyers at gun shows finally receive their merchandise since typical gun shows last a week maybe two and depending on size, prominence of show receives traffic all throughout the one to two weeks they operate in a given location. If required background checks take longer than a day or 2, how are people going to get what they wish pay for? Further, people who sell products at gun shows are essentially small businesses/ business owners; how can they file the paperwork to be granted access to the needed databases, pay for access to more databases as we add sections of people not allowed to own guns, a likely result of expanding classifications under who is considered mentally ill enough to be barred from buying a firearm? Similarly antiquated systems law makers insist on using in an effort to protect the identity of gun buyers, prevent the creation of a registry detailing who buys what kind of gun and details like their address forcing law enforcement agencies to comb through thousands of paper records looking to see who bought a single gun, yet how else does owning a gun not infringe on other parts of your privacy? Situations especially significant upon learning where those who commit crimes involving guns actually get them; a 2004 study nearly 40% were obtain through family and friends, almost 38 gotten via back market, illegal dealers, just over 11% from legitimate gun dealers/sales, just shy of 10% garnered through plain old stealing leaving just shy of 2% purchased during gun shows, from a flea market. Evidence telling us perhaps we should be far more attentive to the close to half of guns obtained illegally, determining if the friends and family section of the survey were selling the guns or only allowing recipients to borrow the gun instead of focusing on 13% of gun traffic 11% already has some regulation.  

To answer Piers Morgan’s recent, indignant question about “why shouldn’t we know who the hell owns a gun…” comparing it to registration on a vehicle, not designed to kill people, rather get them from point A to point B and we abide that without hesitation;  the reasoning behind shunning the former as opposed to the latter can clearly be seen in the events happening after one newspaper and one local news outlet published the names of people in that state or area who had conceal and carry permits making them possible targets for anti-gun extremists who now know their name and address, can show up on their front lawn and cause mayhem and/or bodily harm, scenarios bearing a familiarity to what we have seen transpire at abortion clinics across the country that police now have to be on alert for, taking valuable resources away from other areas of crime prevention, solving cases. Now a reasonable alternative to making gun sale information a part of public record, regardless of if it is a conceal and carry permit or a permit for a hunting rifle, would be to create a database accessible only to national law enforcement agencies, international if necessary; then again anything put into an electronic database is subject to possible hacking. We hear it regularly regarding businesses and people’s credit card numbers, social security numbers of Pentagon personnel the anarchist group anonymous has claimed credit for hacking into things that could pose a serious danger should they choose to do more than demonstrate vulnerability. Outside technological threats presented by computerized records of gun owner information, gun sale details, the question becomes how does that not become a tool for police profiling similar to racial profiling boiling down to harassment of law abiding gun owners about area crime, time wasted not looking at known criminals, guns used in other crimes with identical components instead zeroing in on people only because they own a gun? Relatedly it would be all too easy for the next round of laws to start charging, convicting and jailing otherwise lawful gun owners when their guns are stolen to commit crimes, even when the rightful owner reports that theft to police. We’ve already seen a precursor to exactly that with the charging of a New York woman in relation to the man who lit his neighborhood on fire to lure first responders there and shoot them. She was charged for supplying him, a known felon, with the guns to do so; problem, not known to the public is what story he told to get her to purchase the firearms, whether or not she had any idea what he planned to do with the guns once he had them. Looking at past cases should the grandparents of the Jonesboro shooters have been jailed because their grandchildren stole guns from them then used them to kill people; should the stepfather of the Oklahoma mall shooter have been charged because the guns came from his gun cabinet? Many people believe Nancy Lanza, had she lived, should have been charged with something, yet that is more because she knew her son had severe problems and not only kept such high powered guns in her home, but took him to the shooting range to learn how to operate them, not just due to the fact she owned a gun he later took to kill people. 

 Keeping in mind while the catalyst for stricter gun laws was what happened in Newtown, the goal is to prevent all types of crime committed with a gun where and when we can; one Colorado sheriff had much to say on his governor’s proposed gun legislation. Justin Smith had no qualms about speaking to the need for mental health elements in what comes next legally; namely making sure mental health professionals who believe someone is homicidal have the avenues to contact law enforcement and are by law required to do so, a valid point considering James Holmes’ psychiatrist did think he was a threat, brought it to the school’s assessment team but it went no further upon his dropping out of school. One can assume justification for her not calling police, as a mental health worker would be legally bound to do, if they work in a hospital or private practice setting is because she worked for the school and notifying them was the beginning and end of her obligation. Next he underscored the need for law enforcement to take such warnings seriously a legitimate statement examining events in Arizona prior to Jared Loughner’s rampage; police were routinely called to the college to handle his outbursts yet never used their slightly expanded authority to have him remitted for a basic psych exam, were savvy enough to  protect themselves from a potential altercation by bringing extra officers to his home when informing him he was not to go back to school until undergoing a psych exam, but again never thought to have him remitted under Arizona’s expanded law to protect the community. Those fortunate enough to see Peris Morgan’s discussion panel in its entirety saw one panelist emphatically asked about mental health commenting on the fact that nothing in the current bill, attempting to be passed, or any other bill on the subject addresses that. Returning to Mr. Smith, he was very frank in reiterating the need for crime and criminal control bringing to light his is the state where there is no database for known felons; equally important is a devastating case of Colorado corrections officer Tom Clements killed by suspect Even Ebel who was let out of jail 4 years early due to a clerical error. Adding to concern and prompting sheriff s including Smith to file a lawsuit against the state over this legislation are specific aspects like someone leaving their guns in the possession of a friend would now cause both to be arrested, something that didn’t make since in the wake of say a natural disaster; his reference the wild fires there last summer. It being complexly counter intuitive to jail someone for leaving their guns with a trusted person rather than leaving them unattended while they heeded an evacuation order during fire, flood exc.   

Another wakeup call about gun control legislation, about gun control’s ability to prevent people like Adam Lanza; one- Colorado law, those modeled after them, doesn’t do anything for those assault rifles already out there, high capacity magazines already in the possession of gun owners, individuals who bought such things before date X, doesn’t address hand guns also used in mass shooting incidents of late; 2 it doesn’t stop these things because mass shooters don’t typically have criminal records, mass shooters don’t have mental health histories that include involuntary commitment that would automatically bar them from purchasing firearms. To say nothing of events in the past 2 weeks have proved it doesn’t have to involve a gun to be dangerous; the Lone Star college stabbing injured several and took into custody a man who hand fantasied about killing people since age 8. There are those who would call that a victory, consider it a lesser crime because the suspect was apprehended alive and all of the people injured managed to survive; instead really looking at it, it reinforces what has been said repeatedly about bigger, more concrete and complete solutions, discussing today’s social third rail, mental health. However even just speaking to the weapons used; it has never just been the gun; it has never been just an assault riffle. There has always been a combination either various types of fire arms or a mixture of fire arms and other deadly means.  While the terrorist attack at the Boston marathon was indeed an act of foreign nationals turned naturalized citizens, what they used is almost as important as who they are, not only in determining if they were part of a larger plot, where they got their training, knowledge, information, but in that they are not the first to use something more devastating than a gun to achieve their goals. True terror attacks and mass shootings are not the same but they do carry one huge similarity, the use of explosives; the Columbine shooters also planted pipe bombs that were never discharged, James Holmes rigged his apartment, numerous school shooting plots have been thwarted carrying the same M.O.   

Maybe this is what lawmakers are aware of; maybe these things are what lawmakers want corrected first. Because, it does no good to require universal background checks if the background check system is broken, incomplete and thus, ineffective; until we have a national arrest database allowing all law enforcement from county sheriff to court judge to see a person’s complete criminal history, until we fix the back long present in current system, put the mechanisms and staff in place to efficiently update records in a timely fashion, until somehow we link local, state, federal, FBI and terror watch list records into a system where you run a single check and instantly know if an individual is on any of these lists, background checks, universal or not are useless. Maybe this is what lawmakers see managing crime criminals does more for providing consistent public safety be it from robbery, assault, gangs, murder, mass shooting or terrorist violence than tightening the reins on legal gun owners, gun shows when that’s not where most of the guns committing crimes are found. Whether you agree with Sheriff Smith’s naming current bills as feel good legislation, supporters seem to have forgotten the possibility of lulling citizens into a false sense of security, allowing them to think because of background checks there will be less mass shooting, there will be less gun violence, not true. Maybe this is what law makers comprehend; many, inside and outside politics, have long since called for mental health to be a larger part of making our nation safer, preventing tragedies like Newtown, dealing with mass shootings. Perhaps some want that done before we worry about background checks; good for them and shame on us.