First thing to get out of the way is that I am a progressive, politically speaking, and have liberal views on many issues. That being said I am also the proud owner of a fire-arm intended for personal protection. This may come as a surprise to some as it does not coincide with the weirdly distorted and wholly inaccurate picture of liberals painted by FOX news and other conservative media sources. I believe that citizens should have the right to own fire-arm for personal protection so that they may defend themselves from any threat. This is why I am pro-gun-control!
If you read that last bit and are somewhat confused by what you see as an obvious contradiction, I am writing this especially for you. Gun-control does not mean, necessarily, legislation to take your guns away or, necessarily, prevent you from purchasing guns. Some laws are put in place to protect the gun user, for instance, from buying a particular model that may overheat and shatter. There are certain safety regulations that must be met to ensure that the fire-arm will fire reliably and safely. No respectable gun enthusiast should be upset about this.
Some laws simply attempt to reduce the chance that young children will come across them randomly or reduce the chance that they can go off accidentally. Again, these are not laws to keep you from owning, using, or carrying a fire-arm, but to keep them from unintentionally harming others. This is something that more gun owners should take more seriously. It is easy to find stories showing negligence or carelessness when it comes to accidental deaths; they are numerous, and there are no success stories to counter this. These serve as ammunition for those that would like to see an all out gun-ban.
Speaking of banning guns, here is a quick note on a regularly used reason that we should not ever consider restricting access to guns. I am sure you have heard someone say something along the lines of “criminals do not obey laws; if you make it harder to get guns you only prevent honest, law abiding citizens from being able to protect themselves from criminals.” First, this argument is completely flawed. Here are just a few of the reasons why. The first statement is a tautology, i.e., a statement that tells you nothing about the subject beyond the definition of it (e.g., all unmarried men are bachelors). Also, this has nothing to do with the legal distribution of fire-arms. If criminals are buying guns in back alleys, or whatever, that is really a bad thing. It is also not easy, it is very expensive, and it is extremely dangerous; there is no reason to go making it easier for people who intend to use fire-arms to commit crimes by letting up on gun restrictions. The second statement from the argument above is simply not true, or an absurd exaggeration at best. If you believe in using fire-arms to protect yourself, you probably already own a gun or could go about getting one with relatively little hassle. 3 – 5 days is not an unreasonable time to wait for a background check (in some states, there is no required wait time, just how ever long it takes the seller to punch in your DL information). And restricting access to people with criminal records or a history of certain specific mental illnesses does not impede the ability for your typical, law abiding citizen in any way.
Which brings us to what I consider to be the most important aspect of this discussion: background checks. I will start out with a very basic argument – the more people that have guns and should not, who go on to use fire-arm(s) illegally, the more people will move to support gun-bans. To me, this is very simple. There are certain things that a person can do that should exclude them from being able to purchase a fire-arm. According to Adam Freedman from quickanddirtytips.com, “under the federal Gun Control Act of 1968, certain categories of persons are not eligible to possess a firearm or ammunition.” On the website these reasons are listed as reasons one may be restricted from purchasing fire-arms:
- Fugitives from justice
- Illegal aliens
- Unlawful users of certain drugs
- Those committed to a mental institution
- Those convicted of crimes punishable by imprisonment for more than one year (which generally covers felonies)
- Those convicted of crimes of domestic violence
This list is not hap-hazard or arbitrary; they are motivated by real dangers to society. I would further assert that many of these laws are ineffective and require more regulation and legislation. Furthermore, it is the duty of responsible gun owners to uphold and enforces these policies. Attempts to circumvent the systems in place are potentially dangerous to others and place culpability squarely in the hands of any who know of violations and do nothing about it.
Lastly, I would like to reiterate the importance of the policies shown above. Especially the last one referring to instances of domestic violence. To some people this seems silly or over-the-top. One might ask, “Why would I lose the right to own a gun because I got a misdemeanor for beating up my wife?” The better question is why is are you beating up your wife? That issue aside (for the sake of continuing the discussion at hand), there is a very real connection between victims of domestic violence and victims of murder-by-significant-other. If this law makes you mad, that’s too bad; don’t beat up your loved ones and it won’t be a problem.
So, what we have learned, hopefully, is that gun-control is not all bad. Much of it is very beneficial for gun owners and non-gun owners alike. Yeah, there may be some things that are not perfect, but most issues can be appealed or worked out some other way that is within the confines of the law. It is important that gun advocates know their rights, but also their responsibilities too. If you really want people to stop talking about taking away your guns, then get behind gun laws and make sure they are observed and enforced. Be smart and pro-active about this issue.
 A summary of the various tests and explanations on why they are important can be found here: http://smartgunlaws.org/gun-design-safety-standards-policy-summary/#footnote_21_5929
 See official legislation regarding these issues here: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/15/2052
 Here are some good ideas and links promoting greater responsibility on behalf of gun-owners: http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2014/09/04/how-often-do-children-in-the-u-s-unintentionally-shoot-and-kill-people-we-dont-know/
 Just the first one I came across: http://www.slate.com/articles/health_and_science/medical_examiner/2014/06/gun_deaths_in_children_statistics_show_firearms_endanger_kids_despite_nra.html
 This is some great research on actual numbers regarding accidental deaths due to fire-arms. Note that the tone of this research is not to cast a dark shadow on guns in general, but to promote safe gun practices: http://nyagv.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Accidental-Shootings-NYAGV.pdf
 The number of people who actually want to do away with guns entirely is really pretty low: http://www.gallup.com/poll/150341/record-low-favor-handgun-ban.aspx
 Here are the wait times by state: http://smartgunlaws.org/category/state-waiting-periods-for-guns/
 This article explains the deficiencies of current mental-health regulations: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/josh-horwitz/auroras-hard-truth-mental_b_1727695.html
 Cracks and flaws in a system that many are trying to undermine: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/ticket/gun-background-checks-isn-t-allowed-purchase-gun-191132087–politics.html
 Because they work! This shows how certain gun laws save lives and protect people: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/115404/guns-and-domestic-violence-five-facts-about-how-women-are-murdered
 This is very thorough Q&A on denials, why they happen, and what can be done about it: http://gunguy.tempdomainname.com/nicsfail.htm
Please feel free to critique or comment.
Being able to walk into a store and buy a gun without a wait does not mean that there isn’t a background check done. I’m pretty sure there isn’t a retail establishment in the country that can sell a handgun (maybe long guns too) without a background check first.
Private sales are a different animal, however, it is the seller’s responsibility to ensure that the person buying the firearm is legally able to own one. This is where the primary issue with private sales lives. There are already laws in place stating this, but enforcement tends to be on the lax side and no matter what legislation is passed to prevent illegal private sales, you’ll never be able to fix stupid (he seemed like a nice guy when he bought it…herp a derp).
Unless I was selling one of my guns to my parents, my brother-in-law or my wife…I would insist the deal go through an FFL so that a background check could be run just to cover my own ass. The biggest issue with that is the cost associated with the check. Retailers foot the bill with ease and have constant communication with the checking authority, but a private citizen can’t access the check without an FFL. I suggest a free service for firearms sales that is accessible to anyone who wants to sell a gun, then we have an enforceable law that leaves no wiggle room for illegal private sales.
Here are some updated statistics to add to the conversation.
20% vs. 3%