Do you know why we have a hard time passing common-sense gun laws? Some folks fear that the tyrannical Obama administration, secretly being controlled by the Illuminati, stages mass shootings like Aurora and Newtown to scare the public into allowing government stormtroopers in black helicopters to seize our guns and circumvent the Second Amendment.
Even the ones who aren’t so extreme in their views still fear that the government plans to disarm the public. You see this fear promulgated by NRA propagandist Wayne LaPierre, right-wing radio hosts, as well as some gun supporters in the letters to the editor of this paper and the paper’s website, which has seen contentious battles on the issue.
This paranoia is at the heart of the opposition.
The resultant fear has caused an explosion of gun purchases. According to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the FBI, there have been four times as many guns sold during Obama’s tenure as there have been babies born in America. It’s profiting on paranoia.
We have the opportunity to pass a universal background check law. Currently, in California, if you want to buy a gun from a retailer, gun show or a private seller, you must submit to a background check.
In most other states, gun show sales and private sales require no background check. Studies have shown that up to 40 percent of gun purchases are made in this unregulated market.
While not a panacea, background checks are effective. According to the FBI, between 2001 and 2011, more than 700,000 gun purchases were denied. Virginia state police records show that in the past 24 years, 16,000 felons were prevented from buying firearms because of background checks. These aren’t the proverbial “law-abiding citizens” being denied. These are felons, disturbed individuals and others who should not have guns.
The public understands this. It defeats the purpose of having a background check if Joe can buy a gun with a background check and then turn around and sell it to Bob who doesn’t need one. This is so obvious that in a recent Quinnipiac poll, 92 percent of voters and 91 percent of gun owners support universal background checks.
We should have the same requirement whether you purchase a gun in Fairfield, Calif., or in Fairfield, Texas, or Fairfield, N.J.
Congress appears to be close to a deal but there’s a sticking point. Some senators want no records kept of these background checks. Once again, the lunatic fringe fears keeping records will allow the evil fascist government to know which houses to target to seize people’s guns.
But not keeping records neuters the law. Records are what enable us to track guns used in crimes. They can help track down people who are illegally selling firearms. Once again, no “law-abiding citizen” has anything to fear in these transactions.
While banning unregulated private sales won’t halt all of those sales, it will allow some recourse to prosecute those who violate the law. The gun that was used to kill Fairfield City Councilman Matt Garcia was purchased at a garage sale in this manner.
To the paranoid: no need to fear. The Obama administration cannot ban all guns. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its landmark District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago rulings, affirmed the right of individuals to own firearms. But the court did leave room for government regulation.
Can’t we just do this one thing that nearly everyone agrees on? Peace.
Kelvin Wade is a proud gun owner. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.