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Thursday, Oct 02, 2014
Opinion

Missing the point in gun debate

Staff
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 10:28 PM

We are talking about background checks. We are not talking about Second Amendment rights, slippery slopes, bureaucratic nightmares, "just enforce the laws already on the books," "it's only a mental health issue" or any of the other buzzwords used as red herrings to steer the topic away from background checks.

The question before you is this: Is there any truth to the idea that background checks are effective?" The answer is a definite and resounding "yes."

Let's take Virginia's Firearms Transaction Program (VFTP) as a first example. Passed in 1989, it created a state-of-the-art database second to none in the United States. It works in conjunction with the FBI's National Instant Background Checks System to check the background of those purchasing firearms in Virginia. Hundreds of persons who tried to get guns illegally have been arrested over the years. It is so successful that last summer the NRA asked its members for help to repeal the VFTP.

In addition, the federal Brady Act has denied more than 1.8 million applications, which has been a huge deterrent. Those ineligible to buy a gun don't try since they know they will be subject to a background check.

The arguments against background checks do not get at the broader issue of gun violence, including hundreds of single-victim murders, suicides, non-fatal shootings and other gun crimes that happen every day.

Those who suggest we focus only on the mentally ill, most of whom are not violent, miss the real target: looking at those convicted of violent misdemeanors, including assaults, and those who are alcohol abusers.

The claims that background checks are a slippery slope toward gun confiscation and more big government are flimsy assertions. They just keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have guns in the first place.

Calvin Branche

Hudson

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