Journalist Stephen Gutowski guested on C-SPAN Monday to point out a notable truth about recent mass murders in El Paso and Dayton: background checks didn’t prevent them.
Furthermore, a universal background check wouldn’t necessarily have, either.
Stephen explained to the host of Washington Journal that, as per the law, all firearms dealers must be federally licensed and submit background checks on any and all gun sales:
“If you go to a gun store, there’s a background check. If you buy a gun from them at a gun show, if you buy from a licensed dealer, someone at a gun store, you have to do a background check. If you buy online from a licensed dealer, there’s a background check.”
Private sales, of course, are a different matter. They’re not regulated by the feds, so only state laws apply. So-called universal background checks would end that exception:
“If a private individual sells a gun to another private individual on the secondary market, within their own state, then there’s no federal regulation on that, a background check is not required. Universal background checks would require background checks on those sales as well. Basically, on almost any transfer of a gun between two people there would have to have a background check.”
As for “somebody who is a convicted felon or who has been adjudicated mentally ill,” firearm purchases are always illegal. In fact, it’s against the law to let someone in that boat even hold a gun, he said.
How does all this play into the massacres in Texas and Ohio?
“As far as the effectiveness of background checks, especially in regards to universal or especially in regards to the recent shootings, the last three attacks, all three of those shooters went through the legal process and had a background check and passed it. So as far as this as a response to these recent shootings, this kind of proposal, it wouldn’t necessarily have stopped these particular shootings. Advocates say it would generally reduce crime. That’s the claim at least.”
So one of the ways in which politicians are trumpeting regulation in the aftermath of tragedies doesn’t really address those tragedies; sounds about right.
On the Democratic side, fighting for changes almost wholly unrelated to catalysts for fighting for those changes seems a veritable way of life— recently, Biden fought for a ban on the scariest guns rather than the deadliest (here), and Beto O’Rourke fingered Trump as the reason people got shot (here).
Beto’s out fighting ghosts today (here) — he must think it’s a bonafied presidential look.
President Trump has called for background checks, as well. I’m not suggesting they’re a bad idea. They will, possibly, make it more difficult for those who shouldn’t have weapons to attain them. Although, given the personalities in Congress, it may be wise to question what criteria in the future may be used to keep guns out of the hands of Americans more broadly.
It’s certainly virtuous to question what could’ve stopped the slayings of August 3rd and 4th. But the answers may look like something entirely different than legislation.
We’ve lost something in the fabric of society. We’ve lost family, religion, and community. Society has lost some its reasons to function according to the Golden Rule (please see here, here, and here).
And no law can fix that. Neither can a background check.