Loopholes and limitations

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Constitutional concerns, overlooking evildoers are real issues of background checks

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The appalling atrocities in El Paso and Dayton have raised the cry, “We must do something!” to stop the violence. One alleged “something” is “Universal Background Checks,” generally defined as requiring any g un sale to include a federal background check. Fine.

But the two recent shooters passed background checks. Most mass shooters over the last few years passed a background check in spite of, in retrospect, being on the violent side of mentally deranged.

The gun purchase background check uses the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is administered by the FBI. This is simply a database that attempts to list all people ineligible to own guns, such as felons, illegal aliens, drug addicts, people with adjudicated mental health issues, domestic violence convictions, etc.

Sadly, not all ineligible people are listed. Hence, we have the El Paso and Dayton shooters, the Santa Fe School shooter, the Sutherland Springs church shooter, etc., able to buy a gun even though all of their records should have been in NICS.

What is needed is to get all disqualified buyers into NICS without violating the Constitution.

President Trump’s 2015 campaign document on the Second Amendment states, “Too many states are failing to put criminal and mental health records into the system — and it should go without saying that a system’s only going to be as effective as the records that are put into it. What we need to do is fix the system we have and make it work as intended. What we don’t need to do is expand a broken system.”

An effective step in that direction was taken when President Trump signed the “Fix NICS” bill into law in March, 2018. This law requires all federal agencies to report ineligible persons to NICS and encourages states and local law enforcement to do the same.

In theory, this law would have stopped the Sutherland Springs murderer who passed a background check even though he was convicted of domestic abuse while in the Air Force. Since signing, the number of records in NICS has gone up 13%.

As far as universal checks preventing criminals from buying guns, studies of incarcerated criminals have shown that most who had a gun when arrested acquired it illegally. Either they stole it, obtained it on the black market, used a straw purchaser, got it from gang activity, or used some other illegal means. For the few whose gun purchase included a background check, their records obviously were not in NICS.

Therefore, the kinds of changes to background checks that would help has virtually nothing to do with making law-abiding citizens jump through more hoops to buy a gun.

Ultimately, we know from the sad history of gun control that the real problem is not gun violence but people violence. The gun is only a tool.

As long as there is evil in the hearts of men, people will perpetuate violence, with or without guns. Only the Love of God can displace the evil in our hearts.

Perkins is a retired software engineer who has lived in

Fredericksburg since 2012.