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(cnbnews.net)Well, that didn’t take long. Smart money said it would have taken half of Pennsylvania Sen. Pat Toomey’s term before the Wacky Wing of the Republican Party put him in their crosshairs. Instead, it only took two years for them to bend him over the (gun) barrel.
And what produced such vitriol from a loud but ultimately small segment of the Republican base? What did Toomey do that saw him decried as another “Benedict Arlen” — an unflattering reference to longtime liberal GOP Sen. Arlen Specter?
He thinks background checks for gun buyers are a good idea.
Yep. That’s it, lock, stock and barrel. Pat Toomey’s smoking gun “sin” was advocating a bipartisan compromise on the contentious gun issue, whereby all people buying firearms at gun shows and via the Internet would be subjected to a tortuous 60-second background check. Rather than thanking him for his common-sense approach, however, many Republicans came after him with both guns blazing, calling him a “traitor.”
Sadly, the “cause” for which many of these critics fight has morphed from reasonable positions to ones of stupidity and, ultimately, self-destruction. The GOP’s results in last year’s presidential and U.S. Senate elections proved that in spades.Toomey seems to genuinely believe he’s doing the right thing, and there is no reason to think his efforts are politically motivated. The irony, though, is that his position will clearly help him in what will be a challenging re-election in 2016. But instead of embracing Toomey as one of their own, the hard Right continues to pound him — despite his being one of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment.Talk about shooting blanks.A primer is typically an explanation to the uninitiated as to how something works. In the case of background checks, however, it has become obvious that many of the so-called experts — the “initiated” — are nothing of the kind. So for their benefit as much as anyone’s, let’s set the record straight:1. Most significantly, background checks are not federal gun registries. Neither do they lead to them. Period. Conspiracy theories notwithstanding, the federal government does not have a registry of who owns guns, much less how many and what kinds people possess (neither should it). Likening background checks to gun registries is comparing apples to school buses — they are unequivocally different (you can have a background check but decide not to buy the gun). So when entertainer Ann Coulter inflames the Right (and sells more books) by saying that background checks lead to registration ... to confiscation ... to extermination, just consider the source. Oh, this is the same Ann Coulter whose column last month was pulled by Fox News after opining (she says joking — does it matter?) about John McCain’s daughter, Meghan, getting murdered. Enough said.Here’s what’s puzzling. For people who believe that expanding background checks will lead to gun registries, where have they been for the last decade? Background checks aren’t new, so, by definition, if we are simply expanding an existing system — without changing it — then under the critics’ rationale, wouldn’t we already have such a registry? They can’t have it both ways.
2. Here’s the process for buying a gun in many states: After selecting your firearm, the dealer conducts a background check through the FBI’s NICS criminal database, which usually takes less than a minute. If you are cleared, you fill out the required paperwork, which the dealer is mandated to keep for 20 years, and you’re a gun owner. Should that gun be used in a crime, the serial number will be traced to the manufacturer, distributor, dealer, and ultimately to you. Not exactly the Big Brother database some claim it to be, huh?
3. Background checks are not a conservative/liberal, Republican/Democrat issue. Since they do not impede or infringe upon a law-abiding citizen’s right to own a firearm, it’s not “gun control” at all. It’s criminal control.
4. The checks work: There have been 1.8 million denials since 1998. In 2010, half of those denied had felony convictions or indictments, almost 20 percent were fugitives, and 11 percent violated state laws. Put another way, would we be better off with almost 2 million people walking around with guns who shouldn’t have them?
5. The proposed expansion of checks has an exception for family-to-family purchases, focusing instead on closing loopholes for sales over the Internet and gun shows. Currently, federally licensed gun dealers, even at gun shows, are required to perform checks, but private sellers are not.
Two points here: A). Critics contend that the private sellers account for a relatively small amount of gun show purchases. So what? By that logic, not many more people will be “inconvenienced” for the one-minute check, so what’s the hang-up? B.) What’s the alternative? To allow convicted felons to buy a gun with quasi-legal impunity? Granted, felons (and the mentally disturbed) aren’t allowed to possess firearms, but any criminal with half a brain will get his gun via this loophole rather than risk getting caught in an undercover sting. If not background checks for these high-risk folks, then what? Just hope and pray they don’t take advantage of the system? Good luck.
6. While idiocy is not illegal, it would behoove some gun-rights people to get a shot of common sense. Here’s an idea: Don’t show up at a gun rally or counter-protest with AK-47s on full display, as some routinely do. And don’t blame the “liberal media” when they post that shot on the front page. Do you want to look cool (newsflash: you don’t) by touting guns in public, or do you really care about protecting gun rights? Because I’ve got news for you: The two never, ever go hand-in-hand. Leave the guns at home, wear something that isn’t camouflage, and articulate a reasonable message with a calm demeanor. You’d be surprised how much more effective you’d be at convincing the Great American Middle of your side — and it will be them, not you, who will ultimately decide this issue.
7. Background checks are useful, but not a panacea. The FBI database is only as good as the information it receives from states. If criminal and mental health records aren’t routinely sent and/or updated, it won’t be as effective as it could be. It’s not perfect, but that’s not a reason to scrap expanding it. Nothing can or will ever fully prevent lunatics from engaging in a shooting spree, but a background check system is a solid first line of defense. Again, the question stands: If not, then what?
Is expanding checks a slippery slope, opening the door for more regulations? Like anything, diligence is required, but the short answer is “no,” since the system already exists. Those fiercely opposed are actually doing themselves a disservice, for their position will be blasted away when a convicted felon engages in mass murder using a gun purchased via the Internet or gun show loophole.
It’s time to shoot straight with the hard core and demand they employ reason rather than emotion. If not, when the smoke clears after the next tragedy, those gunning for major restrictions will get there faster than a speeding bullet.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His column appears every Wednesday http://delcotimes.com. He can be reached at CF@FreindlyFireZone.com.
REPOSTED HERE WITH PERMISSION OF THE Delco Times http://delcotimes.com
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