About Me

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Policy provokes me to think and write. I currently work in ivory towers inspiring people to engage in their world. I am a student of the human condition and my classroom is the world. I don't need credentials to have an opinion but I've got paper to prove I know a few things about public health, social welfare and economics. I'm coming out of the tower and taking the words to the people and hope you will send some words back at me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Background checks, guns and deterrence

In the USA, there are millions and millions of guns in circulation.

Today, Congress failed to pass a bill that would expand background checks to purchase a gun legitimately. The problem is that guns are so easy to come by that those who want to find a gun need not submit themselves to a background check. They can simply find a stolen gun on the street that probably cannot be traced in order for them to do whatever evil desires their twisted minds conjure.

Background checks are a way to put a tiny little barrier between the bad guy and his bad deeds. Anti-drug laws stop lawful people from buying drugs but anyone who wants to buy anything from heroin to oxycontin wont find it difficult to do so despite all the barriers in place. Even the limits on cough syrup dont much hinder meth production.

The background check is a distraction from the main issue that guns are still going to be for sale and the secondary sale of guns makes getting a gun fairly easily if one desires. A guy who wants to shoot up a school or a theater need not go through the hassle of a background check because guns are easily available in this society. THAT is the issue. Not many felons are going to go to a legitimate outlet to buy a gun,

Not to say that background checks are not evidence of due diligence on behalf of the state but its a lame attempt to act on a much more significant problem: reducing the number of guns in the USA. And no.... a background check wont stop a felon from getting a gun to rob a bank. It wont stop a gangbanger from finding the firepower to kill territorial intruders. It wont stop a psychopath, a sociopath or a man on the hunt for the target of his twisted love obsession.

It will somehow make us feel like we're doing 'something' even if that 'something' makes no difference in the kinds of events we want to stop. Doing 'something' is pointless if it changes nothing.

The ownership of guns has become part of the American identity for many and so any challenges to the 'American way of life' will meet with strong resistance.

Perhaps my bar is too high or I am just a cynic but until there are significant measures to reduce the manufacture and sale of guns (reducing outlets is one such measure), all other actions simply create laws that are more administrative hassle than crime stopper.