November 29, 2020

Unarmed and Dangerous

What is the process of buying a gun? I’m not looking to purchase a firearm in the foreseeable future, but hypothetically, if I were looking to get my hands on a gun, how easy would it be? As it turns out, the process is alarmingly simple and consists of application for a permit, a background check and proof of training from a qualified instructor.

In the wake of recent mass shootings and ubiquitous gun violence, I have been scratching my head as to how James Holmes (the University of Colorado dropout who killed 26 moviegoers in Aurora) came to possess three firearms— one of which was a semiautomatic assault rifle.
The argument that aims to explain Holmes’ crimes is he was mentally ill at the time of the shooting. While you have to be at least a little disturbed to commit such an act of violence, validating it as a mental illness does everything but.

The failure of some states to place millions of mental health records into the national do-not-sell gun database is literally fatal. Gun checks in most states are disturbingly incomplete. Even if these gaps were filled, under federal law, if you buy the gun, you are the one to receive a background check. You can give the gun as a gift to anyone regardless of his or her mental sanity.

Arguably, one would have to be a little crazy to gift a firearm to the diagnosed. While guns shouldn’t be accessible to the public regardless, they certainly shouldn’t be available to those hearing voices. Each missing record is another opportunity for tragedy; we should look to leaders at the state and national levels to close the gaps.

While there was some talk in October 2009 about the Obama administration and its support of a process that could lead to a treaty banning guns in the U.S., the concept that the Obama administration, in partnership with the Supreme Court, could find a way around the second amendment is a far cry from reality. A treaty could really only regulate armed forces and exports. A “complete ban on all weapons for U.S. citizens” isn’t possible under our Constitution, according to the Supreme Court (FactCheck.org). For that reason, the enactment of gun control laws should fall to state governments.

Anyone who commits gun violence can plead insanity. Any violent criminal with a good lawyer is going to plead insanity. There isn’t a blood test that tells you if someone has an emotional disorder. Even if the system was seamless, the unbalanced could still have access to firearms. I’m not implying every victim of a psychological disorder wants to shoot people. It is difficult to call, and it should not be Bass Pro Shop’s (where Holmes bought his weapons) decision who gets that privilege.

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