Guns and Virginia

November 13, 2007 | | Comments Off on Guns and Virginia

This week, there was another disturbing reminder about the ease with which school shootings or public shootings can occur. The event reported on CNN is based out of Pennsylvania, where a boy has been questioned regarding communications that he had with another individual who killed eight people in Finland, before turning the gun on himself.

Here, in our own Virginia, people are still struggling to get over the shock of the murder of thirty-two students at Virginia Tech. Gun violence has been a long running and continues to be a prevalent problem in the United States. So, what’s the point of reminding everyone of these terrible and sad crimes? The point is to ask ourselves if we are taking the appropriate preventive measures to protect people from the wrath of those who want guns for terrible reasons.

Many people throughout the United States, and certainly in Virginia, take their 2nd Amendment “Right to Bear Arms”, very seriously. Before going further, I want to be clear on one point. I completely understand the healthy love that some people have for guns. Many, many people enjoy their firearms for safe purposes such as hunting each year. Many, many people like to have a gun as a last line of self-defense against an intruder. I understand and respect these individuals legal rights to own guns, use guns for self-defense, and enjoy guns for recreational and cultural purposes. Further, I strongly support and have no desire to take guns from these individuals.

Having said that, are we doing all we can to make sure that the right people have guns for these safe purposes? My main concern is that the background checks on people buying guns still seem to be rather flimsy. This is one of the most dangerous weapons in the world, why can’t people wait a little longer before getting them to make sure that some crazy or evil person doesn’t get their hands on a gun and cause the premature death of an innocent person?

To Virginia’s credit, the Commonwealth recently closed one of its gun show loopholes that previously allowed someone such as the Virginia Tech killer, with a documented mental illness, to buy guns. The problem is that other loopholes remain in the books. For example, “the State Legislature rejected a proposal to close the egregious loophole by which “private” (i.e. unlicensed) dealers sell weapons at weekend gun shows free of the federal obligation to conduct background checks on buyers.”

So, although the Commonwealth made it a little more difficult for the wrong people to get guns, individuals that are mentally ill and have bad intentions still have available forums for getting their guns. Further, the passed legislation fails to close the loopholes in any forum for bad people that are generally not crazy, but plan to kill someone.

I feel that the gun show loophole should be closed so that proper background checks can occur. It may be a small nuisance for those looking to buy guns immediately, but it is one that will increase safety for everyone throughout the country.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Michael (mx5tx)


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