By KHALIL SPENCER
Just a quick few comments on Stephanie Nakhleh’s letter.
First, there have already been bills introduced to require universal background checks. So far, they have failed, but not because no one tried. But as a Federal law enforcement officer offered to USA Today**, Vester Flanagan bought his handgun from a federally licensed gun dealer in Virginia, passed a background check, and there was nothing in his background to prohibit the transaction.
Second, there is already Federal law in place to prohibit those who are adjudicated as violently mentally ill from buying guns. That information, however, must be provided by the courts to the NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check) system. The NICS system is required to be used by all Federally licensed gun dealers. There have been several high profile cases of shootings where local officials have failed to provide this information to the NICS system, resulting in sales slipping through the cracks. So the failure is not always a lack of controls, but a lack of initiative.
Finally, its not clear to me how one easily buys an arsenal over the Internet. Internet sales, other than private, “want ad” like sales between individuals within the same state, have to go through the same NICS system as purchases through dealers.
Laws and protocols aimed at prohibiting illegal gun sales will not eliminate all illegal sales, just as drug laws have not eliminated illegal drug sales. In fact, draconian drug laws have made drug sales more dangerous to the user and to the public due to the influence of organized crime. Where there is a demand, capitalism works quite well at providing product to customer.
Cars are heavily regulated as are their owners. But we still kill more than 30,000 people a year on the roads through the misuse of cars, about the same number that die by gunfire, as both cars and guns are ubiquitous and can be misused. Regulation does not eliminate all senseless deaths, as long as people are acting senselessly. The question is, how low do we set the bar on the public’s responsibility to police itself, and transfer individual responsibility to the government as a precondition of enjoying, in the case of gun ownership, a clearly defined Constitutional right?
Its not so simple as blaming the NRA.