Several times each night an advertisement comes on television with a young bearded father sitting on the back of a pickup truck with a gun on his lap. He tells us to get in touch with our senators and tell them to vote for background checks to help keep bad people and mentally ill people from getting guns. He then tells us that background checks do not have anything to do with taking guns away from anybody.
Many people are not aware that we already have a comprehensive law requiring background checks on persons purchasing a firearm. The Gun Control Act of 1968 was strengthened by the Brady Handgun Prevention Act of 1993. The national database for background checks was launched on November 30, 1998, by the FBI. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) administers the system. The feds have access to databases on every person who has served time in jail or in prison all over the United States. They also know every person who has a federal firearms license (FFL).
They do not have complete records on the mental hospitals and clients of psychiatrists. Any retailer in the United States who sells a weapon is required by law to participate in the background check process by checking with the NICS. The NICS must respond to every application within three days. If complications require more than three days and the merchant had released the firearm to the buyer, if the license is refused the merchant must retrieve the weapon from the buyer.
Database — handy enabling mechanism
The fear in having the government in control of this information is that it could be used to create a list that could be used to confiscate weapons by the government. Gun control advocates point to regulations that say that no part of the record of issuance of a FFL can be used to establish a registration of firearm ownership.
There is also a section in the establishment of NICS that says that no information that is collected can be used to establish a system for registration of firearms or firearms owners. These regulations were written before the days of huge computer memories when a hard copy of the records was the system used to store information. The information is stored in the computer now and could be accessed if the president or Congress decided to utilize it. It would take only a few hours to change the regulations to make this possible.
I do not like the idea that to get the lower prices in a grocery store I have to use an ID card that tells the computer not only the products that I buy but the brand and the size of the package and how often I purchase it. Who needs to know this information? These details cannot harm me, but I consider this private information that I would rather not have recorded.
The problem that gun control advocates see in the system is that it only applies to merchants who sell guns. Only about 60 percent of the weapons are sold through merchants. The other 40 percent are sold by individuals to individuals.
Feds seek criminalize private acts of a free people
Recently my wife and I went to Collinsville, Ala., to a flea market open every Saturday.
As I moved around the market I saw that the stands that sold handguns were missing. I stopped at the one stand that was selling shotguns and asked him what had happened to the stands selling pistols. He told me that a few weeks back the FBI had come in early in the morning and purchased a pistol from each one of them. None of them did a background check. They came back later in the day and arrested all of them and took them to jail. Whether any of them were actually charged with a crime is not known but it scared them out of business at any rate.
There is a new background check law before the Senate that will be voted on this month. If it is passed, it will make it a crime for any individual to sell or give a weapon to another individual without having a background check run on the person to receive the weapon. This rule would even apply to a father who wishes to pass on a weapon to his son that was given to him by his father. Not having the background check could cause the father to be arrested and charged with a federal crime. The punishment has not yet been determined but it could destroy the lives of many family men in Chattanooga.
Regardless of the background checks, criminals will not abide by the laws and will still have their guns. Chicago has the country’s toughest gun laws and they still have the highest gun-related crime rate in the country. The recent shooting in the Connecticut school was done by a weapon taken from the perpetrator’s mother who would have had no problem clearing the background check to secure the federal firearms license to purchase a weapon.
Enforce existing statutes a better route
It seems that the areas with the lowest gun-related crimes are the areas where citizens find it easy to own and carry handguns. A criminal who knows that he may face a deadly weapon in the commission of a crime must think a little more seriously about what he is about to do.
The best way to reduce gun-related crimes may be to make the punishment more severe and have longer mandatory sentences without parole when a gun is used in a crime. Perhaps even the death penalty on some crimes even if a life is not taken.
Before Adolf Hitler took over Germany he confiscated all of the weapons in the possession of the citizens. If anyone ever tried to take over the government of the United States by force, he would first have to confiscate all citizen weapons. Anything that might make this easier raises red flags to many of us.