Letter: We regulate traffic; why not firearms?

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Almost every town has a dangerous intersection that has a higher-than-average rate of traffic accidents. Traffic engineers come up with safety schemes to reduce the number of accidents at these intersections. They include things like reducing the speed limit and putting in stop signs or lights. These measures are not perfect. Drivers still speed and run stop lights. But the rate of accidents is reduced.

There are very few critics of these safety schemes. No one criticizes them for being imperfect, or for somehow representing an infringement of their rights.

Yet when a modest proposal to require universal background checks for firearms is proposed, the critics come out of the woodwork. You would think that the proposal would somehow infringe on people’s right to bear arms. This is nonsense.

What is troubling is that these critics seem to have no regard for the thousands of innocent lives that are lost to gun violence. They seem to think that their right to bear arms is an absolute right, even above the right of others to their lives. We have a moral obligation to staunch the blood that flows from our overly lax gun laws. Requiring universal background checks is a reasonable and modest step in the right direction.

Fred W. Nehring

  • Bowdoin81

    The obvious problem with gun control laws is that criminals are the ones who break them. Universal background checks won’t make any difference. Venezuela sought to turn around the out of control homicide rate in Caracas by banning the private ownership of firearms. How’s that working? The homicide rate is now one of the highest in the world, three times that of the US. We the people need to get smarter about clamoring for heaps of laws and regulations that speak to some high-minded agenda but just won’t work as intended.

    • truther

      So what’s the alternative?

      • Aliyah33

        Criminals being the key word, why can’t we focus on that and specifically gangs? Seems gun control efforts are predominantly aimed at law abiding citizens.

        • Just Sayin’

          You do realize that background checks and gun registration do put pressure on criminals, right? Very few guns are created with the intent of going on the black market, they are usually sold to law abiding citizens originally, and then that citizen either becomes a criminal, loses the gun (including to theft), or sells them on the currently unregistered private sale market.

          By attaching a paper trail to those guns Law enforcement would be able to vastly better track guns and discover how they’re getting into the hands of criminals, and would improve their chances of keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.

          Right now the lack of registration and background checks gives law enforcement a huge blind spot in being able to track how guns are being moved and sourced. Fixing that blind spot would certainly help law enforcement still be on target, while still allowing law abiding citizens to bear all the arms they want.

          Sounds like a win-win to me?

          • Aliyah33

            Let me pose some questions to you – what happens in the cases of identity theft? Do you think it’s possible someone can steal another’s identity (a law-abiding citizen) and buy a firearm? Do you know how often identity theft occurs in this country? Do you realize some even cruise the obituaries to steal even a deceased person’s identity?

            Re Brunswick’s police department – it is fact they’ve provided people with others’ social security numbers. Wonder how easy it is to also hack systems – including the police departments anywhere in the U.S.A. Start looking.

            Also, take a look at another issue – namely the Fast and Furious Program where firearms ended up with criminals, with gangs and done so by our own Federal government. Did anyone pay any consequences for this – including the death of a border patrol agent – killed by a gun provided by our government?

            Even when guns are bought legally and with a background check, it also doesn’t preclude the fact criminals burglarizing homes specifically target guns, cash, jewelry, money, drugs (illicit or prescribed) and those guns easily and quickly change from several hands. How does this remove the huge blind spot you’ve mentioned? Looks more like a target placed on law-abiding citizens to me. (By the way, I don’t even own a gun, but can truly understand the difference between a right and a privilege.) If some LEO are not even “on target” in too many States already, how is this a possible win-win for the law-abiding citizens?

          • Just Sayin’

            You’re right in that criminals can steal guns or identities in order to get guns, and registration doesn’t solve that problem, but let me ask you this:

            Is it better to have criminals illegally obtaining guns that there are no records of, or is it better for the guns they steal to be registered with information that gives the law enforcement agencies some sort of lead as to where a gun originated from?

            That sort of information could help pinpoint some cases of repeated problems. If an identity thief was buying guns, do we want to allow them to keep using that identity to buy (And potentially sell) more because there was never registration on the gun?

            No, it’s not a final solution to the gun problems this country faces, but it would help in ways that could save lives for the minor inconvenience of filling out a little paperwork.

            Now regarding the Fast and the Furious, that was a terrible idea that never should have been undertaken, and those involved in the decision making level of it should be heavily prosecuted.

          • Aliyah33

            The UBC is a case of swiss cheese; what I mean by this is it appears some believe the logical outcome will be a reduction of crimes and shootings.

            RaymondBeach302, with law enforcement experience, is telling us it’s illogical there’d be a trail to follow. If there’s no substantial benefit to citizens, why would we even push for this? If there are more guns than people in the U.S., I wonder how many lives have been saved because of UBC and if we have any cases to show this.

            The UBC doesn’t stop the gun from being stolen, and if we look at reported criminal data, theft is usually the most committed crime and usually goes unsolved. So, we learn that gun used in killing someone in an armed robbery once registered to John Doe, but 5 years prior Mr. Doe’s house was burglarized. It’s reasonable to believe thefts will continue to be high, and even more of a problem when economies worsen. Regarding identity thefts, it seems reasonable to believe criminals don’t continue using the same stolen identity, but easily find another.

            Seems one of the biggest problems we have, besides gangs and activities associated with gangs, is in cases where law enforcement’s doing their part by bringing criminals to court, only to have the judicial process fail. Since our DA’s elected, shouldn’t we put more pressure on them to seek higher sentencing instead of plea bargaining? If recidivism is a consequence of lenient sentences, shouldn’t we focus on that, too?

            We’re living in a country which doesn’t even prosecute certain people committing crimes, namely those in the upper hierarchy with power, and money; they’re untouchable. Yet, we’re divided on how to tackle gun violence and some believe the focus should be on law-abiding citizens… something’s very wrong.

          • Chew H Bird

            Let’s not forget that anyone with a 3D printer can create a single shot weapon… I suspect technology will provide the tools to create multi shot devices within a few years rendering background checks even less effective.

          • RaymondBeach302

            I’m in law enforcement, and you’re flat wrong. Universal background checks would be worthless to us, since at some point the gun goes from law abiding hands to those of a criminal. The criminal will not be getting a background check, being a criminal and all. There is no “blind spot”. You want to know what the real problem is, go to the District Attorney’s office and file a FOAA request for conviction data for crimes related to firearms. You’ll laugh and then cry at the sentences handed out. Background checks solve absolutely nothing, prosecuting criminals and putting them in jail does.

          • Just Sayin’

            I agree with most of what you say, though I have a hard time believing that background checks and registration would be completely useless to you. Yes, at some point a gun goes from legal hands to criminal, but wouldn’t having a paper trail help you catch people who are repeat offenders in helping that happen? If someone was using a stolen identity to buy guns and put them on the black market, wouldn’t a paper trail help to identify and stop that?

            I’m in full agreement that proper prosecution of people committing gun crimes is a far more important step. There should be very little leniency for those who willingly commit crimes or behave recklessly with tools made explicitly for killing. Sentences should be long and harsh.

          • areyoukiddingme

            Did you study at -all- the background checks being proposed? All it does is make normal everyday actions of gun owners criminal (loan a gun to a friend to go hunting, now a crime). It does nothing to provide a trail to track criminal gun sources.

      • Chew H Bird

        Illegal activities, (criminals), drug abuse (especially alcohol), and mental health are three areas that we should (in my uneducated opinion) focus on if we want to reduce violence (in general). I believe these three things are often associated with more than just firearm deaths and may include such things driving a vehicle whole intoxicated and family violence…

  • Chew H Bird

    Driving is a privilege and owning firearms is a right. This is a huge difference. Whether or not we agree on the difference between a powder loader and modern weapons, and whether or not we agree on the intent of the framers of the Constitution, the difference between a right and a privledge is enormous.

  • danmaine

    None of the proposals for “universal background checks” or any other measures proposed would do a single thing to reduce gun violence. You want less violence, eliminate gun free zones, stop prescribing so many drugs that alter people’s minds, attack drugs and gangs with a vengeance. Only law abiding citizens will change behavior with new laws, criminals, by definition do not. Criminals like and want increased gun laws, it improves their chance of robbing, raping, killing victims who can’t defend themselves. Firearms are the great equalizer. More people are killed with rocks, hammers and blunt instruments than rifles yet the left continually tries to increasingly regulate rifles…. Why?

  • tiresias75

    Freedom of speech is a right, and it is regulated. Ditto the right to demand a warrant before your “persons, houses, papers, or effects” are searched. Rest in peace, Justice Scalia, but your majority opinion in DC v. Heller may be the single worst of your career (and that is saying a lot!)

    • areyoukiddingme

      Really. You’ve read Heller? What exactly do you think the 2nd amendment means? The decision doesn’t say the right is unrestricted just like the 1st.