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Gun Safety Is Important - And We Are Still Failing To Act

Category: Guns
Posted: 11/07/17 08:28

by Dave Mindeman

The myriad of gun trolls that pervade the internet dismiss any argument about gun safety with a blizzard of arguments that never seem to center on what guns do.

The argument they make is that if you don't know the difference between a semi-automatic and automatic weapon, then you have no business in the debate.

Really?

Do semi-automatic and automatic weapons both kill? Do they kill large numbers of people in a short period of time? What else do we need to know? The technicalities (and there are many) that gun manufacturers have placed on the mechanics and nuances of the various weapons in this country are meant to distort what the real debate happens to be. And that debate is essentially, how do we keep weapons out of the hands of dangerous people.

The NRA and gun activists oppose any changes in any method of weapons restriction. We cannot have a CDC study on guns. We cannot ban weapons from those on the no-fly list. We cannot have an effective registry because the lobbyists refuse to allow proper records to be maintained.

Here is the main example:

The ATF's record-keeping system lacks certain basic functionalities standard to every other database created in the modern age. Despite its vast size, and importance to crime fighters, it is less sophisticated than an online card catalog maintained by a small town public library.

To perform a search, ATF investigators must find the specific index number of a former dealer, then search records chronologically for records of the exact gun they seek. They may review thousands of images in a search before they find the weapon they are looking for. That's because dealer records are required to be "non-searchable" under federal law. Keyword searches, or sorting by date or any other field, are strictly prohibited.


Records still can be found - but the intention is to make it slow and difficult. How effective are background checks going to be if records are maintained this way?

The recent "error" by the Air Force about the Texas shooter is, yet, another example of how reports on guns are not taking seriously. The NRA lobbies Congress to make things as difficult as possible.

And then there is the merging of gun records and mental health records.

Even though federal law prohibits the sale of firearms to certain individuals with a history of mental illness, history has shown that it's still too easy for dangerous people experiencing a mental health crisis to obtain firearms. Currently, laws are in place that require licensed dealers (but not unlicensed sellers) to conduct a background check prior to the transfer of a firearm to screen out these and other prohibited purchasers.

However, federal law cannot require states to make information identifying these people available to the federal or state agencies that perform background checks, and many states fail to voluntarily report the necessary records to the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), especially with respect to people prohibited from possessing guns for mental health reasons. As a result, some individuals known to be dangerous can pass background checks and obtain firearms.


You would think that we could make these processes easier and more straightforward. But under the watchful eye of the NRA, all of these methods of maintaining records are made difficult, restricted and in some cases simply ignored by the various states - especially deep red ones.

At some point, we have to decide what type of legislator do we want to make decisions on the laws regarding guns.

What we have now is just woefully inadequate and it has made America less safe than other developed countries. Terrorism has certainly given us a set of difficult problems - but compound that with dangerous people obtaining military style weapons in a retail setting - well, I think you know what that means.

The last mass killing with a gun in Australia led to gun bans and actual confiscation. They have not had a major incident since. Weapons are highly restrictive in Europe and ownership in Japan is minimal.

We, not only have the worst record on mass killings of any other industrialized country, but we are the only nation that pushes for less control on weapons rather than more.

Nobody advocates doing what Australia did. But there are common sense measures that can work if allowed to and there is public support to do just that.

Guns are never going away in America. And that is fine. But they are dangerous and public safety demands that we address that.

Technical arguments about guns don't matter - safety does.
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