So if “their side” stopped tilting at windmills (Assault Weapons, High Capacity Magazines, Banning Guns, etc.) and focused on issues that make sense and are achievable, is there common ground between “us” and “them”? Absolutely.
It starts with background checks. As stated in Myth 6, 74% of NRA members support more background checks. I have seen numbers showing around 96% of the population supports it. I have also seen numbers that show 77% to 97% of gun owners support expanding background checks. So why is’t this being addressed? Well it is to a small degree. The “Fix NICS Act” is getting a lot of traction and may be included in the spending bill.
Increasing the amount of records checked by the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) is a good start. Contrary to news reports stating mental health issues are not included in background checks, there are over 5 million records in NICS related to mental health issues. Should there be more? Are all relevant local law enforcement records forwarded to the FBI for NICS inclusion? Why do we have a “No Fly” list, but these people are not excluded from buying guns? (There are important issues related to the No Fly list that need to be resolved as well, but I don’t want to stray too far from the topic.) Clearly we can improve NICS.
However that still leaves problems related to background checks. There is a lot of talk about the “Gun Show Loophole”. It’s more ignorance in wording. In many states, gun transfers between private parties require no identification or background checks. Do some of these transfers happen at gun shows? Sure, but most guns sold at gun shows are sold through licensed dealers and all of those sales require background checks. Private party transfers can happen anywhere, not just gun shows. I have legally sold a gun to someone without seeing an ID or having a background check in a Starbucks parking lot. Were they a legal resident of the state? Were they legally allowed to own a gun? I had no reason to believe anything was wrong, so I could legally sell them the gun. So the issue really has nothing to do with gun shows and everything to do with private party transfers. Every gun sold, gifted, etc. should go through a background check. For transparency, yes – I would make more money because more people would have to go through a dealer like me like transfer a firearm. My argument is: Why have any background check at all if it can be easily and legally avoided in many states? In most cases, an electronic background check through the FBI’s NICS takes about 2 minutes. There is no reason it should not be used on every firearm transfer.
Another hot topic that we can probably find common ground is bump stocks. In my opinion, anything which significantly increases a firearm’s rate of fire to that similar to a machine gun should make the gun an “NFA weapon” as defined by the ATF and it should be subject to the same regulations as a machine gun. Wording is crucial. You can’t just ban “Bump Stocks”, since there are other mechanisms that accomplish the same goal. Such items include Slide Fire (a brand of bump fire), gatling triggers, and binary triggers, but these are not as well known as they have not been used in a mass shooting.
One area which needs a much larger debate is age. Currently many are discussing raising the age to purchase assault weapons or even all firearms to 21. Does it make sense that handguns are 21, but rifles are 18? In this country, we seem to have a big gray area related to the age at which you are an adult. We say you are an adult at 18. You can legally enter into contracts, vote, and be drafted and die for your country. Yet, you can’t drink, gamble, or buy a handgun until you are 21. That is quite an inconsistency. Based on personal experience, I don’t think I started acting like an adult until my mid 20’s. So, what age is appropriate and should we address other issues besides guns?
To wrap this series up, we need to focus on issues that can make a difference. We need to look at issues where we can find common ground. In addition to some gun control issues, we need to address mental health, school security, law enforcement procedures, etc. Then we need to tackle the big issue… stopping people from wanting to kill other people, regardless of the tools and methods they choose to use.