As our children return to school/campus, students, parents, and teachers look to lawmakers to pass laws to keep guns out of the hands of future active shooters. But it’s not just those returning to academia that is calling for gun reform. It’s the average U.S. citizen that no longer feels safe attending public events in America. One solution up for debate, universal background checks for all gun purchases in the United States.
I for one am for it.
Close the Purchase Loopholes
As a member of former law enforcement, I’m here to tell you we need comprehensive screening of all gun purchases in America. Currently, only federally licensed dealers are required to run background checks before purchase. This means there are many other “legal” gun purchasing loopholes for anyone who wants to purchase a firearm, to go out and purchase a firearm, immediately, no questions asked.
Firearm purchasing loopholes include:
- Gun Shows
- Online sales
- Unlicensed dealers
- Transfer of firearms (e.g. gifts)
To me, this indicates too many ways people who should not have a gun to purchase a gun, period.
While some states have embraced universal background checks for all firearm purchases, other states are still struggling to pass necessary laws. In particular, the Protect Law Enforcement Act (PLEA).
PLEA Act is designed to only allow law-abiding citizens to purchase firearms. At the time this blog was written, only 12 states require universal background checks before purchasing a firearm.
There is no denying these loopholes enable, domestic abusers, people with violent criminal records, and people prohibited for mental health reasons to purchase guns from unlicensed sellers with no background check in most states. However, there is also an argument that universal background checks do not work.
For and Against
Aside from our 2nd Amendment “Right to Bear Arms”, there is also a lack of data showing statistical proof that gun control legislature definitively impacts firearm-related deaths in America. One study conducted by the Gun Policy Research Review conducted a study weighing statistical data for 8 gun-related areas of concern against the effectiveness of 13 types of gun policies in the United States.
8 Types of Gun-Related Areas of Concerns:
- Defensive fun use
- Gun industry outcomes
- Hunting and recreation
- Mass shootings
- Officer involved shootings
- Unintentional injuries and deaths
- Violent crime
13 Types of Gun Policies:
- Background checks
- Bans on the sale of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines
- Child-access prevention laws
- Conceal carry laws
- Firearms sales reporting requirements
- Gun-free zones
- Licensing and permitting requirements
- Lost or stolen firearms report requirements
- Minimum age requirements
- Prohibitions associated with mental illness
- Stand-your-ground laws
- Surrender of firearms by prohibited possessors
- Waiting periods
Although most gun laws were deemed inconclusive for most types of gun use outcomes, child-access prevention laws were deemed the most effective, indicating supportive in preventing suicide attempts and unintentional injuries and deaths.
Background checks were found to be moderate in preventing suicide and violent crime. However, mass shootings were deemed inconclusive about whether background checks laws were effective.
As far as I can tell, the pros for and against universal background checks for the purchase of firearms are even.
Pros for Universal Background Checks:
- Decrease # of suicides and violent crimes
- Enables people who are “supposed to be purchasing” firearms to be prosecuted
- Would drive up the price of illegal gun purchase, decreasing sales of this kind
Overall, the largest argument for universal background checks is the chance to save lives by keeping guns out of the hands of potentially violent, unstable people.
Cons for Universal Background Checks:
- Only as good as the data in the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database (e.g. NICS failed to report flagged citizens responsible for the recent Aurora CO and Dayton OH active shootings)
- Won’t stop criminals from obtaining guns
- May deter citizens from turning in firearms if they were purchased “illegally”
However, the biggest argument against is that it violates U.S. citizen’s right to bear arms stated in the 2nd Amendment. In my opinion, this is simply not true. If you truly are a law-abiding citizen, you will be able to purchase a gun.
I also believe we should support additional laws to protect our citizens from mass injury and death with other types of solutions such as:
- Safety protection orders (ERPO and CAP laws)
- Red flag laws
- CIT (Crisis Intervention Team)
Whatever the means, we must back up law enforcement with the legal means to protect our citizens, not just hope for the best. There have been too many deaths at the end of a firearm to ignore the impact gun violence has had on our country. The time for action is now.
Let’s be clear, the comprehensive ban on firearms is not what is proposed. Ensuring that guns stay out of as many unstable, violent, unlawful individuals is the goal. How can that be bad?
Timothy Dimoff – Speaker, National Expert, Author
Tim Dimoff’s engaging and thought-provoking presentations are sure to enlighten, inform and move you into taking action on such critical issues as workplace risks, substance abuse, security, and societal threats. Feel free to contact Tim today to speak at your organization.