Welcome to Common Gunsense

I hope this blog will provoke some thoughtful reflection about the issue of guns and gun violence. I am passionate about the issue and would love to change some misperceptions and the culture of gun violence in America by sharing with readers words, photos, videos and clips from articles to promote common sense about gun issues. Many of you will agree with me- some will not. I am only one person but one among many who think it's time to do something about this national problem. The views expressed by me in this blog do not represent any group with which I am associated but are rather my own personal opinions and thoughts.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Fix our background check system

With one simple new law, we can fix our country's flawed gun background check system. When the Brady law was enacted in 1994, one category of sellers was left out of the loop in requiring a buyer of a gun to get a background check- private sellers. It was not envisioned then that the private sellers who were thought to just be selling their own collections of guns would be selling guns in great numbers. But sell they do and in large numbers. Some private sellers set up their tables at gun shows all over the country and are selling as many guns as and the same guns as the federally licensed firearms dealers. But they don't have to go through the "hassle" of making the buyers go through a background check. You can hear what they say about that in hidden camera video after hidden camera video. It's easy- out the door- no background check- just cash..... Private sellers account for 25-50% of vendors at gun shows in America. There are other private sellers who sell outside of gun shows. Since they have no idea to whom they are selling their guns, they don't need to worry, I guess. They don't know if that nice young man is mentally ill. They don't know if that older gentleman just beat his wife and was arrested for it and released a few days ago. They don't know if the young adult is a gang member. They don't know if the man who just bought that gun is a terrorist. They don't know if the woman who just walked away with an AR15 is a felon, just released from jail. Shouldn't they need to know that?

Requiring background checks on all gun sales is simple. Federally licensed firearms dealers are available at gun shows or close by in a near town or city. Some people like to sell their guns to family members. So be it. There are often exclusions for family members in proposed bills. But you had better make sure that your brother-in-law is not about to shoot your sister because they have been having marital problems and he is sort of a volatile guy. Maybe you should make sure that your father doesn't have any sort of health problems that could put others at risk if he misuses that gun. Suicide, for one thing, is prevalent among older adults. Some older adults have arthritis, sight problems, dementia and other conditions that would make handling a gun a risk to themselves and others.

What I don't understand is the strong resistance to requiring background checks on all guns sales. It would be one way to put a stop to illegal gun trafficking. It might stop a murder or a suicide. It might stop a kid from buying a gun on the street from someone who just bought without a background check with the intention of making a quick sale. If the folks who so strongly resist this are law abiding gun owners, what do they have to fear? There is no slippery slope to background checks. After all, they are already required when buying guns from federally licensed dealers and nearly 2 million people who are prohibited purchasers have been prevented from buying their guns at a particular point of sale. It's just plain common sense. This new comprehensive report from Mayors Against Illegal Guns highlights the problems in our country and in individual states with the gun background system. It needs to be fixed.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg knows that requiring background checks will save lives. He will be speaking in Congress today about how fixing our background check system is a good idea. There will be victims of gun violence standing beside Mayor Bloomberg. One woman from Minnesota, Mary Johnson, who will be there lost her son to a bullet several years ago. Her remarkable story is here. She will visit with members of Congress, along with other victims, to tell them that a simple vote can save lives. She will ask them to stand with the victims instead of with the NRA. It will take courage and conviction for members of Congress to do this. But we know they want to do the right thing. Up until now, they have been intimidated by the guys with the guns who think they make the rules.

Omar Samaha, whose sister, Reema was shot to death in the Virginia Tech massacre, knows that a simple law to fix our background check system would work. He will be at the Senate hearing today. He traveled the country with the FixGunChecks truck for Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Here is his video.

As if allowing felons to purchase guns easily at gun shows isn't enough, the NRA is even into quietly making sure that felons get their gun rights back. Seriously folks. Where is common sense? This is ludicrous and dangerous. In this story, there are references specifically to Minnesota gun laws. Apparently the NRA will stop at nothing to get what they want. They managed to get a provision in the law that most people don't even know exists. If your ideas can't pass public scrutiny, they shouldn't end up in laws. You can watch a video here, of a Duluth woman who was endangered by her former boyfriend, a felon, who got his gun rights back. If the flawed and dangerous idea to give guns to domestic abusers and felons is such a good idea, let it see the light of day for discussion. If that had happened, it would not have passed in the Minnesota legislature or in other states where provisions such as this were sneaked into other laws. And now we have a law that allows even violent felons to get their gun rights back. I would suggest that our political and judicial system is full of flaws that need to be examined carefully if we really care about public health and safety. Further, felons have been shown to repeat crimes once out of prison and allowing them to have guns after their release is a bad idea for so many reasons. Read what Daniel Webster of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has to say about the issue:
Given the prior data on the enormous social costs of gun violence in the U.S. ($100 billion a year, by one estimate), criminal recidivism, and public opinion, people convicted of nonviolent felonies should be eligible for review of their fitness to possess firearms only after a substantial period of crime-free living (like 10 years), including no history of restraining orders for domestic violence. The review should also involve an in-depth examination of the individual’s mental health and history of substance abuse.
Of course. Can there be any arguments against this reasonable and safe approach to the issue? One would hope that our elected leaders realize that they have been fooled by the ever powerful NRA. Speaking of being fooled by the NRA, on the same day (today) as the Senate Crime sub committee will hold a hearing on the Fix Gun Checks Act of 2011, the House of Representatives will vote on H.R. 822 to nationalize conceal and carry permits so that states will be forced to honor permits from any state even though the laws are very different for who can get a permit. This law is dangerous and goes contrary to common sense. Many of our Congress members are beholden to the NRA or just plain afraid to stand up to them. Not all permit holders are law abiding citizens as the NRA would have you believe. Here is just one recent incident of many where permit holders commit gun crimes. And further, from the linked New York Times article above some felons who get their gun rights back also then get permits to carry.
“Nearly 40 years ago, you know, I was a dumb kid,” Mr. Hairston said at his first hearing. He added, “I am in a situation now where if, God forbid, if someone was to come into my home and attack me, my wife, there isn’t a lot I could say about it, there isn’t a lot I could do.”
In the end, the judge, Hollie L. Gallagher, granted his petition without comment.
Soon after the judge’s ruling, Mr. Hairston obtained a concealed weapons permit from a neighboring county and bought a 9-millimeter semiautomatic handgun.
This is ludicrous on so many levels. And what do or what can elected officials do about this?
When Senator David F. Durenberger, a Minnesota Republican, realized after the law passed that thousands of felons, including those convicted of violent crimes, in his state would suddenly be getting their gun rights back, he sought the N.R.A.’s help in rolling back the provision. Doug Kelley, his chief of staff at the time, thought the group would “surely want to close this loophole.”
But the senator, Mr. Kelley recalled, “ran into a stone wall,” as the N.R.A. threatened to pull its support for him if he did not drop the matter, which he eventually did.
“The N.R.A. slammed the door on us,” Mr. Kelley said. “That absolutely baffled me.”
I'm baffled. You should be, too. We deserve answers to how these things continue to happen in a country already awash in guns and with more gun deaths per capita than any other industrialized country. Let's end with this quote from the New York Times article linked above:
Even some felons who have regained their firearms rights say the process needs to be more rigorous.
“It’s kind of spooky, isn’t it?” said Beau Krueger, who has two assaults on his record and got his gun rights back last year in Minnesota after only a brief hearing, in which local prosecutors did not even participate. “We could have all kinds of crazy hoodlums out here with guns that shouldn’t have guns.”


  1. "What I don't understand is the strong resistance to requiring background checks on all guns sales."

    Then I can help explain.

    Gun shows often are on weekends for 2 days. The current "instant" background checks would pose no real problem, and that's what gun control advocates say they want. But dig a little deeper and one finds that most gun control advocates intend to later replace "instant" background checks with a mandatory waiting period of 5 days or more. More gunowers would support mandatory instant background checks on all sales at gun shows if gun control advocates would issue a clear and credible renunciation of their previously stated plans to later replace instant background checks with a mandatory waiting period of 5 days or more.

  2. Another reason many gunowners resist requiring background checks on all guns sales at gun shows:

    In some states that already require background checks on all guns sales at gun shows, gun control advocates continue their attack on gun shows in other ways. In California, which already requires background checks on all guns sales at gun shows, gun control advocates in various localities continue to try to prohibit gun shows in some of the most popular venues. More gunowers would support mandatory background checks on all sales at gun shows if gun control advocates would issue a clear and credible commitment to cease further attempts to attack gun shows in other ways.

  3. "But dig a little deeper and one finds that most gun control advocates intend to later replace "instant" background checks with a mandatory waiting period of 5 days or more."

    The Brady Bill as originally written mandated a five-day waiting period. NICS was added to it as an amendment offered by the NRA. The Brady Campaign lobbied against it, at the time.

    In 1994, there was a bill before Congress that would have closed the "gun show loophole". It had passed both Senate and House. The Brady Campaign lobbied against it because a provision had been added that would require that "instant" checks be completed within 24 hours. Because of Brady Campaign opposition, Clinton vetoed it.

    When you listen to this discussion, always remember - the Brady Campaign could have had what they've always said they wanted, back in 1994. Their record shows that what they really want differs significantly from what they claim to want.

  4. That is an opinion jdege- not fact. Your simplification of the issues leads you to false assumptions.

  5. jdege: "The Brady Bill as originally written mandated a five-day waiting period. NICS was added to it as an amendment offered by the NRA. The Brady Campaign lobbied against it, at the time."

    Yes, until a further compromise occurred. The Brady Bill as originally written only covered handguns. The additional compromise was that it would be expanded to cover long guns too as soon as NICS took effect. The Brady Campaign accepted that compromise. So did I.

  6. "When the Brady law was enacted in 1994, one category of sellers was left out of the loop in requiring a buyer of a gun to get a background check- private sellers."

    No. Including all sales was the goal but it was decided that it would not succeed. Private sales were not overlooked or "left out of the loop" (nice play to work in the whole "loophole" canard, btw). A restriction on private sells would not fly then and it sure will not fly now.

  7. The refusal of the gun rights extremists to compromise on anything on display, FWM. Thanks.

  8. I will compromise.

    I would be willing to undergo annual criminal background and mental health checks in exchange for national conceal permit reciprocity. I'm not naive enough to think I'm not already on a bunch of "lists". The NSA probably knows I'm writing this post, and some other agency knows I bought a rifle scope at Cabela's last month. I shouldn't have to do this, but would trade it in exchange for Bloomberg's billboard I had to see on the city bus this morning.

    At the risk of alienating myself among some gun owners, I have no moral objection to a private sale background check, if it ensures my continued ability to keep and bear arms, including scary looking ones that hold lots of bullets. (please pardon the run on sentence). I'd personally run a serial # check to ensure it's not stolen in most cases. That said, I think there are many practical details that need to sorting out. While I can't see it working, I am curious to hear how a background check could be facilitated for selling granny's old double barrel shotgun at the rummage sale

  9. I think the compromise was a 5 day wait until the Ncic was enacted (MN still has the permit to purchase that was enacted to satisfy the wait) and checks on all new guns all FFL transfers of used guns. A compromise however is not everything you want without anything we want.

  10. jdege: "The Brady Bill as originally written mandated a five-day waiting period. NICS was added to it as an amendment offered by the NRA.

    Yes and no.

    The amendment offered by the NRA was NICS from the start, with no waiting period. The compromise that actually passed was a waiting period to start, and NICS and inclusion of long guns years later.

    The NRA fought against that to the end, but that compromise Brady Bill passed with the support of moderate gunowners like me.

  11. Back at me what? The bill that was passes was a compromise now you want to change the compromise to include the "loophole" private sales. That sounds like no compromise unless something else is brought to the table.

  12. You've lost me Anthony. This is just a blog. Take it easy.

  13. "Not all permit holders are law abiding citizens as the NRA would have you believe"

    Please show me where the NRA says that.

    Ohio alone has 253,000 permit holders. Not ALL of any group is law abiding. That is a straw man argument. All we've ever said is that permit holders are far less likely to break the law than average citizens and way less likely to commit a crime with a gun than average people.

    That statement is provably true beyond doubt and the state links have been published here for all to see.

    Sometimes a permit holder uses a legally owned gun to save their lives.


    She was being beaten from behind and being shoved INTO her car by an assaliant that was later discovered to also be a sex offender..

    Having a permit and a gun handy likely saved this woman's life.

    Here is what the Ohio Attorney General says.

    “We’ve seen enough abductions to know they’re not going to be taken some place for a manicure,” he said. “It’s not going to have a happy ending. And frankly, I’d rather read about someone defending their life than someone being killed by an attacker.”

    I don't expect you to post those sorts of events since it doesn't support your cause, but I'm curious. I your world, what would you have had her do differently?

    Would you have preferred that she was unarmed and had to deal with this sex offender in a different manner?

    I'm trying to imagine something else that would give average, everyday women from say 20-80 years old (not martial artists) a better chance to survive attacks by physically stronger criminals bent on harming them, but can't really come up with anything.

    I guess that why this sort of event usually ends badly for the woman.

  14. Well 18 Echo, we going around and around. I have provided enough evidence on this blog about permit holders shooting themselves or others that actually probably ( don't know for certain) out number the times permit holders have used guns to defend themselves. I don't believe that being armed will stop all crimes from happening. In fact, often the guns carried by people to defend themselves are used against them. I have never said people shouldn't arm themselves if they feel they must. But the chances of them using their gun to defend themselves are slim to almost none as it turns out. I think either you or someone else already sent me this one. I'm aware of these incidents by the way.

  15. Once again, Joan you and the Brady clan cloak what you want.

    Let’s take my home state of Illinois as an example. We already have a “license” to own, possess or buy a ANY firearm. It’s is called the FOID card for Firearm Owners Identification. At least every other day the FOID card list is scrubbed against the mental health admissions and daily against new convictions and orders of protections. And you must produce a FOID card even in a private sale. So there was no possibility of “no background check”. But that didn’t stop the Brady bunch from claiming so in 2005. And when a compromise was offered, no more local gun laws for their precious “gunshow loophole”, even though there was none, they didn’t want it. And a bill forcing any private party at a gun show to go through the State Police FTIP program was signed into law.

    The next year they were back. Even with our FOID card, no private sales outside of a gunshow could take place without going through a FFL.

    One of the issues with the FTIP system is that the State Police without authority or telling anyone, started keeping records of all sales.; the person, the dealer, the day and the transaction number. A defacto type of registration system.

    That was one of the reasons we didn’t want private sales at gun shows included. And when a bill was offered to destroy the database, Brady fought it. And just this past year, they once again wanted all private sales to go through dealers, so they would be recorded on a 4473 and put into the State Police database, despite us already being required to have a FOID license/permit to own a gun.

    So the devil is in the details. We have seen firsthand that it is not about background checks, it is about registration. It is about making it harder to get a gun, as many of the gun dealers in the state have said they will not do these transactions as the fees allotted in the bill do not cover their counter time. So it translates into a possible ban on private sales.

    But then again if your side says fine, the dealer can charge whatever they want, then you have instituted a $25 to $50 tax on private sales.

    So no, we are not going to compromise. We are not going to give in. As a matter of fact we are going to take ground. We will delete the database. We will pass concealed carry. We will continue to fight Chicago’s ordinance in the courts and win.

    You got your 1 “loophole”. You’re not getting any more