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Reader's view: Criminals get guns despite federal background checks

The April 9 letter, “Extending background checks won’t cut crime,” rebutted a March 18 letter, “More background checks will reduce gun crime.” Supporting background checks for all gun sales is itself in need of some rebutting.

As the April 9 letter stated, persons engaged in the retail or wholesale firearms business perform federal background checks, per existing law(s); they are federally licensed gun dealers who have a great record of following these legal requirements. I’m sure the March letter writer, being retired from law enforcement, understands that. So do most supposed “anti-gun” folks mentioned in the April letter.

The problem is the limits in the federal and state background check laws as written. In effect, persons who sell guns once or occasionally are not required to be licensed or do background checks. Thus they can inadvertently sell to someone they don’t know who has a criminal record or mental-

illness history. In this manner, enough guns are sold to such people every year that, along with gun theft and straw purchases, the criminal element is more than sufficiently armed for its nefarious needs.

Occasional and one-time gun sellers needn’t be licensed. But the law should require they have a background check performed on a potential buyer, with some exception for family members. It’s just common sense and would keep society safer.

Background checks are quick and inexpensive in this wired age. Though performing these checks does require some effort by the seller, that’s life in a modern, democratic society where individuals have a duty to each other. Background checks “target” only people prohibited by law from possessing a firearm. But, to be effective, all buyers need to participate.

It is true that current laws need to be enforced, a case the April letter writer correctly made. But laws also should be written as necessary to maintain order and security. Our current gun laws are far from being that.

Brent Gurtek