Guns for sale: No background check needed
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Gun shows provide more loopholes in already weak laws
To capture the essence of a classic Socratic quandary, imagine this scenario: You know that the right thing to do is to return your friend’s gun to him or her if you have taken it. But should you return it if you know that person is mentally unstable and would use it against others?
I’m betting that most people would say no, and with good reason. Even though the Second Amendment guarantees the right to bear arms, in reality, not everyone has the right to gun ownership — the background check is a mechanism to prevent guns from falling into the wrong hands.
It’s a simple enough concept but one that is not enforced as often as it should be.
The background check is basically non-existent at events like gun shows — forums where private sellers convene for a great American pastime: lusting after guns.
In the black market, I would expect for just about anyone to walk right up to a seller and buy a gun, no questions asked.
So why is the shadow of the black market falling on a legal venue?
To expose gun shows for their lax take on background checks, Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City commissioned a sting operation that went beyond its borders. Investigators equipped with hidden cameras went to seven different shows across the country, including one in Reno, Nev.
Their results were appalling. They found that many gun sellers simply did not care to whom they were selling, even if it meant selling to a guy who told them himself that he would not be able to pass a background check.
Private sellers, by law, are not required to conduct background checks, so there is a gun show “loophole.”
But the law does say this: If the seller has reason to believe that a background check is in order, they cannot sell a gun.
If they continue with the sale in such a situation, it is considered a felony — plain and simple.
But undercover investigators found that even when buyers blatantly admitted that they would not pass background checks, they were sold the guns anyway.
To such admissions, the sellers responded with “I couldn’t pass one either,” or laughs and conspiratorially winks. One seller dared to “jokingly” ask if the inquirer had “done something bad.” One simply stated that he “did not care.”
Bloomberg is an advocate of closing the loophole nationwide, either through national or state legislation, and this sting makes an excellent case for doing so.
Advocates of the “gun show loophole” claim such occurrences are rare. Well, as proven in the sting operation, I wouldn’t exactly call 19 out of 30 sellers willing to sell a gun to someone who says they will not pass a background check a rarity.
I call that 63 percent.
Even if it’s true that most sellers ask questions, the claim is not sufficient to convince me that the loophole should remain. Because even if most check, there are plenty that don’t ask questions and disregard red flags waving right in their faces.
Also, is it safe to assume that the potential gun buyers would respond honestly even if they were asked questions?
It makes no sense.
I don’t see how any rational person would have a problem with getting rid of the loophole. The shows would still run and people would still be allowed to buy guns.
Demanding that the loophole be shut down is not tantamount to taking away constitutional rights from a mentally stable, law-abiding citizen. But it does ensure that fewer guns fall into suspicious and unsavory hands.
But for some reason, the National Rifles Association tried to diminish the significance of this investigation.
In a statement to CNN, the NRA said, “We believe anyone who breaks the law should be arrested, prosecuted and punished.
Instead of working with law enforcement to bring those who may have broken the law to justice, Bloomberg chose to use this information for a press conference. Bloomberg’s priorities are clearly media first, justice later.”
But along with bringing criminals to justice, in a democracy, it is crucial that such information be shared with citizens to clear misconceptions. Nineteen of the 30 sellers broke the law. That speaks volumes in itself, particularly in conveying just how easy it is for guns to change hands.
Of course, the NRA wouldn’t want media coverage of this issue. But we deserve to know the truth.
Closing the loophole would mean fewer guns for those who are not qualified to get them. But it seems that the NRA’s priority, as much as they scoff Bloomberg, is to make it as easy to sell as many guns as possible, regardless of the hands they may fall into.
While they may be all for enforcement of the law, actions speak louder than words — or in this case, the lack of action in advocating the closure of a dangerous loophole.
As far as I’m concerned, there should be no difference in the requirements for background checks when it comes to licensed gun dealers or private sellers.
At the end of the day, they are selling a deadly weapon and have no right to treat this with a cavalier attitude.
Proper background checks are not infringing on anyone’s right — that tired argument needs to be put to rest.
To preserve public safety, it is imperative that guns not be sold to established criminals, future criminals or mentally unstable persons in such an open and easily accessible arena.
The gun show in Las Vegas starts on Saturday and lasts through the weekend.
I wonder just how many of us could go up to a private seller, tell him or her that we could not pass a background check and walk out of there with a firearm.