Kristen Rand, legislative director at the nonprofit Violence Policy Center in Washington, D.C., pointed out to America that such weapons all come from jurisdictions without strong laws like Chicago’s. “You can’t buy a handgun in Chicago or the District of Columbia legally, so traffickers go to states with weaker laws and then bring them to the cities that don’t allow their purchase.” For Ms. Rand and other gun control advocates, one of the worst aspects of a victory by those who mounted McDonald v. Chicago would be that it would remove what she called “the most effective measures to prevent handgun violence.” She observed that the Supreme Court in both Heller and now in McDonald is examining the issue solely as a question of constitutional law “and not in terms of the deadly effect on citizens of gun violence.” The court should know better than most that, as former U.S. Justice Robert H. Jackson said, “the Constitution is not a suicide pact.”
Although most observers fear that the outcome of the Chicago case will be similar to that of the Heller case, one ground for hope is a bill introduced by Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey. It would mandate background checks for all private sales at gun shows. In the meantime, states with bad records of gun violence continue to allow gun show loopholes to remain open. The implications of the killing of 33 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 by a mentally deranged man who had no difficulty obtaining his weapons has faded too quickly from public memory. Virginia legislators who are once more resisting plugging the gun show loophole for private sales seem also to have forgotten. Closing this loophole could slow the deadly flow along the iron pipeline.
Rights have correlative duties. When individuals and localities do not meet those responsibilities, it falls to government to do so. Thus, if there is a fundamental Second Amendment right to bear arms, there is also, as there must be, a fundamental responsibility to regulate their sale and use.
I'm not clear what Ms. Rand means by “the most effective measures to prevent handgun violence.” If the Court decides that Chicagoans can have guns in their homes, I don't see what will change as far as the "iron pipeline" goes. Certainly there won't be hundreds of FFL shops in Chicago immediately. I don't think that's the case in D.C.
Another question I had is using the VA Tech shooting in a discussion of the gun show loophole seems wrong. I think he bought his guns legally, didn't he?
The overall message of the article, though, I agree with wholeheartedly. The so-called gun show loophole, or better stated, the sale or transfer of firearms without a background check, should be stopped. My gun-enthusiast friends have failed to convince me that something is wrong with this. Usually they divert the discussion, questioning the meaning of the words "gun show loophole," trying to say that folks who use that expression don't know what they're talking about. That may be the case at times, but around here, everyone understands.
When pro-gun folks argue against this I believe they're showing their true colors. They're taking their cue from the NRA which preaches don't give in on anything, don't give an inch, never acquiesce. How rare is the pro-gun person who can admit unlicensed sales are the source of too many guns entering the criminal world and they should be stopped.
What's your opinion? Please leave a comment.