Background Checks at Gun Shows

19 01 2008

Theres the headline: “HOUSE PANEL REJECTS BILL TO TIGHTEN RULES OVER GUN SHOW SALES” – This article references the families of VA Tech victims and implies that this bill might have helped. Two problems.

First, The so-called gun show loophole. People who use this term will tell you that background checks are not required at gun shows. This is TRUE. However, federal law requires that all gun dealers perform background checks before they sell a firearm. This federal law DOES apply at gun shows. That means if I go to a gun show and buy a gun from someone that has set up a table, I must get a background check performed on me. Now, back to this ‘loophole.’ This ‘loophole’ refers to the lack of background checks required by private owners to sell. If I own a gun and I go to a gun show, or anywhere for that matter, and I want to sell my gun to a dealer, why should I need to background check the dealer? If I wanted to sell to another private individual, why should I need to get a background check? Say I own a car. I want to sell it to my next-door neighbor. Should I need to get a copy of his driving record? What if he is a DUI repeat offender? How would I know if I didn’t have his driving record? This is not required because people use their best judgment when selling something to someone else. It is the same with a gun. I would not sell to someone who appeared shady or gave me a bad feeling inside. Its called instinct and we have been taught to ignore it. This bill was a joke and the end result would cause no difference in illegal guns. In a 2001 report produced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, they found where firearm offenders found their guns:

Looking at these statistics we find that only .7% of illegal guns used in crimes came from gun shows. That leaves99.3% of illegal guns to come from other sources. If they want to ban the source, why don’t they ban drug dealers? … Oh wait, thats already illegal. (I guess banning things doesn’t stop law breakers from breaking the law) Enough about why the loophole doesn’t exist, now about why the VA Tech Schooling holds no connection.

The article’s first paragraph says:
“Tearful parents of students murdered and wounded at the Virginia Tech shooting rampage in the spring were rebuffed Friday in their efforts to broaden laws requiring Virginians to undergo police background checks before buying guns.”
I understand VA Tech was a tragedy. I understand that the families of the victims have gone through hell. What I don’t understand is how this law would have helped avert this tragedy. Cho bought his gun at a store. According to CNN, “Cho paid $571 for a 9 mm Glock 19 pistol just over a month ago, the owner of Roanoke Firearms told CNN.” So how would this law have helped? Cho WAS subject to a background check. We need a law to coordinate the some sort of database of the mentally ill into the database for the background checks. That law would help. Along with much stiffer penalties for selling/buying/possessing an illegal gun.

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