Universal Background Checks and Gun Control. Is there a solution?
While I fully support the American right to bear arms, I also feel 100% sure that our country has failed in its ability to keep the wrong guns out of the wrong hands. You need a license to hunt, fish, and drive. So why would you not need some kind of certification or licensing to purchase any component of a weapon that is designed to kill? It makes no sense. Strict universal background checks should be a primary component to the right to bear a weapon. The Huffington Post published the results of recent gun polls. It turns out that 92% of households believe that complete background checks should be a requirement before purchasing a gun. If you are a poll watcher, you know there aren't too many polls which result in a statistic that high, which means it's time for America to take action.
I do believe we have the right to own a gun. If not for personal protection, certainly for the ability to hunt. Those who eat meat and oppose hunting - well that's a discussion for a blog on someone else's website. The fact remains that while background checks aren't perfect, and can't entirely predict the mental stability or the potentially malicious intents of a gun owner, it can certainly rule out individuals who have been prone to violence in the past.
How Can a Complete Criminal Background Check Begin to Lower Gun Violence in America?
As it stands now, licensed gun dealers are required to run a national criminal background check before selling a gun. However, once an individual is cleared, there is nothing stopping that person from purchasing multiple guns and selling them to anyone on the secondary market. That being said, universal background check laws would require anyone selling a gun to run a national criminal background check on a potential buyer. So for example, let's say I own a gun. I want to sell it to my friend Joe. I would need to go through a federally licensed gun dealer and have Joe cleared (or not!) by the dealer's criminal background check. This would make the transaction legal.
Sure, there are loop holes. But the bottom line is, as pointed out by Brad Plumer of the Washington Post, most of the people who own guns in the United States are middle-class law abiding citizens and the more we can do to tighten up gun laws and clean up secondary gun sale transactions, the better.
We all want to live in a country that is as safe as possible. Heck, we all want to have faith that when we send our children to school each day, they will return home safely without being exposed to gun violence. Yes there will always be criminals and those criminals will always find access to guns. But we should all be open to the idea that perhaps there are more guns circulating in society than are necessary to keep us safe - and that certain guns simply don't belong in the hands of average Americans - certainly not anyone who isn't legally old enough to drive, drink, or serve their country in the military.
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