10 Feb 2013
Argument Paper on Background Checks for Gun Reform
Is it reasonable to provide mandatory, instant criminal background checks for every sale at every gun show so that there are no loopholes anywhere for anyone. Some will argue that it is not, the fact of the matter is that with instant background checks could reduce the number of people who are dying because of individuals who have mental or medical issues.
Shortly after the massacre at Columbine High School in 1999, the National Rifle Association endorsed background checks for all buyers of firearms at gun shows. This would have closed an infamous loophole that allows private, non-dealer sales with no checks. Three of the Columbine shooters' weapons had been bought at gun shows but the NRA's willingness to compromise angered hard core gun advocates, and the loophole remained open. Fourteen years and many mass shootings later, the influential gun-rights group has reversed itself, opposing the expansion of background checks to gun shows and anywhere else they don't now apply. The NRA had it right after Columbine, and its flip-flop sets up a crucial battle in Washington. The move to apply instant checks to virtually all the gun sales is looking like the gun-safety proposal with the best chance of becoming law this year in the wake of December's elementary school massacre in Newtown.
A bipartisan group of senators is trying to fashion a plan, and, in his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, President Obama is expected to make another pitch for expanded background checks. Change is needed because federal law requires the instant checks only for guns bought from federally licensed firearms dealers. Private transactions at gun shows, garage sales and other venues aren't covered. That gives anyone who couldn't pass a background check plenty of options for getting firearms. The NRA and other gun groups offer deliberate misrepresentations and specious arguments to try to kill...