Background Checks and Gun Control
The recent spate of incidents related to guns has rekindled the debate over gun control and measures to ensure safety and security of the citizens. With the Newton, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Bombing still in public memory, there are many congresspersons and senators calling for extensive background checks on those desiring to purchase weaponry. The term weaponry has been used instead of guns alone as the buying behavior of many gun owners reveals that they do not purchase guns in isolation or handguns or small firearms but instead, accumulate large weapons that can proved detrimental to public safety. Hence, one has to be cautious about expanding gun ownership as guns provide the means for deranged and unstable maniacs to cause extensive damage. Further, the fact that gun enthusiasts point to the phrase “Guns don’t kill people, people do” is somewhat of a misnomer as guns are the medium and the shooters the messengers. Therefore, it is always better to curb the medium instead of shooting the messenger (literally and figuratively) and a possible solution would be to conduct extensive background checks so that guns do not land up in the hands of sociopaths and criminals. The key aspect here is that when outright gun control is not possible, the next best thing would be to limit the spread of firearms and that too to individuals who are a menace to society. In this respect, Congress must pass the law extending federal background checks for gun purchases (Lee 2013).
The reasoning behind such a move is that it differentiates between gun ownership for legitimate purposes and self-defense with that of maniacs getting their hands on guns. Considering the fact that the increase in violent incidents of late seem to be perpetrated by sociopaths and criminals, the least that Congress and the Government can do is to vet those who want to purchase guns in a thorough manner. Indeed, statistics show that more than 40 percent of guns are sold without checking the background of the people purchasing the guns and this is a dangerous trend that needs to be curbed. Given the fact that age checks are in place for those wishing to buy tobacco and alcohol, the same reasoning can be extended to the purchase of guns as well. Indeed, there is more the reason for this to be done as soon as possible as buying alcohol and tobacco inflict pain on those who are consuming them (though they can cause collateral damage as well) whereas the aspect of guns falling into the hands of anti social characters is a social menace and potentially lethal in its consequences for society. The argument that guns are needed for self-defense is valid and it is the case that background checks take into account this aspect as well. As far as one can see, background checks do not prohibit legitimate people from buying guns. They just weed out the undesirable and the criminally minded people from acquiring guns (CNN 2013).
The third aspect about background checks for gun purchases is that this mechanism provides a means for the governments to monitor who is buying gun, match their profiles with their database of criminals, and immediately act upon suspicion. The point here is that by vetting those who want to buy guns, the governments have greater control over the process than earlier and in these days of heightened anxiety about public safety, this is the least that Congress can do to propagate law and order in the country. The other aspect about having background checks is that it deters repeat offenders from buying guns that can be used for destructive purposes and as mentioned earlier, background checks are a potent weapon in the hands of the government to regulate and monitor gun ownership (FBI 2013).
Finally, it is the case that Congress is bitterly divided on this issue mainly because of partisanship over this issue. Hence, the fact that this is the time for Congress to come together and show its resolve in fighting the menace confronting the nation cannot be overstated. Indeed, the senseless killing of children is a grim reminder that unless Congress acts fast, the nation is going to witness repeated bouts of such incidents that can only tear the social fabric apart and lead to corrosion in society. Given the fact that the country is reeling under the recession where many Americans live a hand to mouth existence by relying on food stamps, the stakes for public safety and public welfare could not have been higher (PolicyMic 2013). At a time when the nation needs healing, Congress cannot bicker over the specifics of background checks and instead, must vote to extend the federal laws that provide for background checks for people wishing to buy weaponry. In conclusion, while one hopes for such an outcome, one can only wish for it to come true as the heated debates in Congress and the Senate is reminders that the country stands utterly divided on the issue of gun control. The time to act is now and before it is too late, Congress and the Senate must pass the bill that extends the provision of background checks for those desirous of buying guns (Nytimes.com 2013).
Lee, Mike. "Mike Lee: Why I voted against background checks." 2013. Web. 22 Apr 2013. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/04/17/gun-proposal-sen-mike-lee-editorials-debates/2090793/>.
Barrett, Ted. "Senate rejects expanded gun background checks." 2013. Web. 22 Apr 2013. <http://edition.cnn.com/2013/04/17/politics/senate-guns-vote/index.html>.
FBI. "Gun Checks/NICS." 2013. Web. 22 Apr 2013. http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/nics
Nytimes.com. " Background Checks Are Still Stumbling Block in Gun Law Overhaul." 2013. Web. 22 Apr 2013. ;http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/03/us/background-checks-still-stumbling-block-in-gun-law-overhaul.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0>.
PolicyMic. "40% of Guns Are Sold Without Background Checks, Because of People Like Larry Pratt." 2013. Web. 22 Apr 2013. ;http://www.policymic.com/articles/22816/40-percent-of-guns-are-sold-without-background-checks-because-of-people-like-larry-pratt.