Posted: 11/12/13 22:14
by Dave Mindeman
The gun debate is always difficult to traverse. Facts are selective. Arguments are distorted.
In the local newspaper weekly, Thomas Craft, a 2nd District Congressional candidate did a guest editorial in the SunThisWeek. He talked about closing the gun show loopholes and universal background checks, which Congressman John Kline opposes or ignores when he can.
Craft's Op-Ed is here:
Background checks should be extended to all gun sales
A local gun enthusiast wrote a letter to the editor to counter Craft's claims:
Gun show loophole doesn't exist
Mr. Anderson's counter argument addresses some of the points but slants the interpretation.
He used a City Pages 2010 "test" of gun show purchases in which the reporter was unable to purchase a gun.
If you read the article, it is clear that the reporter was a complete gun novice and the dealers he approached were all licensed dealers who are not going to jeopardize that license (show or no show) with a sale to an idiot. Licensed dealers have the background check number on speed dial (as the article pointed out) and obviously they are not the problem.
The issue at gun shows is that unlicensed dealers or local collectors are often given tables, especially in more rural areas, and these sellers are not equipped to sell guns with the same checks and procedures that a licensed dealer is set up to do.
The law does not prohibit this type of connection and sales to prohibited individuals slip through all the time. The gun show loophole does exist and is a very real problem.
Mr. Anderson also cites a CDC study which was actually requested by President Obama after the Newtown shootings. And while this study issued a variety of findings, Mr. Anderson selects his quote:
Craft ignores the Obama Administration study funded after Newtown since results did not suit him. Key findings of the study, "Priorities for Research to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-Related Violence," released in June were: Armed citizens are less likely to be injured by an attacker, defensive uses of guns are common, mass shootings and accidental firearm deaths account for a small fraction of gun-related deaths, and both are declining, stolen guns and retail/gun show purchases account for very little crime, and the vast majority of gun-related deaths are not homicides, but suicides.
The "armed citizen" finding was pushed into the report by Gary Fleck, a controversial researcher who has done several studies which inflate the self-defense aspect of gun violence. His presence on the committee was controversial and the information provided used his own previous studies. Most researchers consider his methods flawed and biased from the outset.
But even at that, Mr. Anderson's quotation is not very comforting. He seems to believe that "mass shootings and accidental firearm deaths account for a small fraction of gun-related deaths". If that statistic is supposed to make me feel better, it has failed. And yes, suicides outnumber homicides....which again is not at all comforting. One would hope that mental state should get more prominence in background checks....but obviously it is not.
Mr. Anderson goes on to proudly state that the perpetrators of the recent mass shootings at Sandy Hook, Virginia Tech, Aurora, and Red Lake used weapons that were all "legally" obtained... or "stolen" from relatives. Again, not much comfort.
I have to agree with Tom Craft's analysis....
As with many issues facing Washington, there are cynics standing in the way of some common-sense solutions. They say criminals will still find ways of buying guns. Or that background checks may not have been able to prevent all of our violent tragedies. But to allow that line of thinking to impede our progress on essential gun safety reforms would be a serious mistake. We cannot solve the whole epidemic of gun violence in America with one piece of legislation, but that does not mean that we shouldn't take meaningful steps to save lives. When nine out of 10 Americans agree on something I think that overwhelming consensus should result in some action.
Mr. Anderson has succeeded in convincing us that we cannot stop gun violence in all its forms. Mr. Craft agrees. But that also cannot stop us from trying to work for those "common sense" solutions.
This debate is far from over.