Facts enrich gun discussions

Ron Johnson

By A Contributor

There has been a lot of discussion, including in The Mercury, about the issue of gun control. Much of it has been emotional rather than factual.

Those against guns in general argue guns’ destructive power and how unsafe they feel in their presence. Those in favor argue that the presence of guns makes everyone safer. Federal crime statistics tend to bear out the latter. Regardless, The Mercury tends to favor stricter gun control, which is understandable given the newspaper’s left leaning.

Whether one is for or against stricter gun control, facts should be used as a basis of argument rather than emotion. For example, the issue of stricter background checks, which recently failed to pass muster in Congress, has many perplexed. It seems reasonable to require a background check for anyone buying a gun over the Internet. The truth is that anyone buying a gun over the Internet must either possess a federal firearm license, a requirement that involves a rather extensive background check, or have the firearm shipped to a person or business with a federal firearm license so a background check can be done on the buyer before delivery.

What about gun shows? In order to register to sell guns at a gun show, a vendor must possess the required federal firearm license and must do a background check on anyone buying from them.

So what’s the problem? It is, of course, private sales from one person to another, such as a father to a son or neighbor to neighbor or such similar sales in which there is no background check. Also, there is the troublesome “straw man” purchase, such as encouraged by our very own Justice Depart-ment, in which a legal buyer purchases a gun and then gives or sells it to a person not legally qualified to own one, such as a Mexican drug cartel. As was pointed out in congressional testimony, only very rarely does the Justice Department ever prosecute straw purchasers. 

The gun registration check bill in Congress failed over the private sale issue, not Internet or gun show sales. Congress could not find a way to satisfactorily regulate private sales without significantly infringing on everyone’s rights.

Concealed carry presents another problem for those against guns. There is a fear that “everyone” will be carrying and the Wild West will be upon us once more. The truth is less dramatic. Those wishing to be licensed to carry a concealed weapon must first pay for and undergo academic training, pass a written test, pass a weapons qualification course, fill out application forms, be finger-printed, undergo a background check, be photographed, submit all of the above along with a significant amount of money for fees to the Kansas Attorney General’s office, where more checks are done. It is an expensive and time-consuming process.

Criminals, of course, forego this process and just stick a gun in their belts.  Qualifying for concealed carry also teaches one that using a gun in self-defense is a life-changing event not to be undertaken lightly. A person trained and licensed to carry a gun is not the cowboy of the Old West.

What do we do about guns? There are things in the Bill of Rights that from time-to-time make many of us hopping mad, but most of us would not trade our rights or allow them to be taken away. Our individual rights as embodied in the Bill of Rights are, after all, what make us who we are as a people.

Ron Johnson lives at 3105 Dickens Ave.

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