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Reader's view: Background checks aren’t anti-Second Amendment

The March 7 Opinion page contained interesting letters dealing with gun regulations. However, the characterization in one letter that those advocating for improved gun regulations, including better background checks, are “anti-Second Amendment,” was untrue.

First, consider that the Second Amendment does not specifically grant ownership of any and all kinds of weapons. If it did then flamethrowers and even nuclear bombs would qualify. Obviously the Founders intended nothing of the kind and could not even have known how advanced weaponry would become. So, just like the First Amendment, which prohibits malicious slander and libel as well as falsely hollering “fire!” in a crowded theater, the Second Amendment can be viewed as requiring prudent regulations — not just ignoring common-sense issues of public safety where certain types of weapons are involved.

Another letter from a federally licensed firearms dealer, as he identified himself, implied that, statistically, making sure background checks are better enforced is impossible and, therefore, not worth the attempt. But assuming he was correct that 200,000 gun purchases were stopped by background checks and only 6 percent of red-flagged purchases were actually turned down and not just delayed until approval, that 6 percent of transactions denied equals 120,000! And if, according to the Justice Department, only .06 percent of those 120,000 prevented transactions were successfully tried that would equal 72 prosecutions. So if these 72 cases involved mass shootings in which two dozen or more people were killed or injured, such as the 26 dead in Sandy Hook, then that number potentially would prevent up to 1,872 murders of innocent people. I don’t know about the letter-writer, but I think working on preventing unlawful gun sales to lower mass casualties by improving background checks is well worth it — especially if one’s family and friends are counted among the dead.

Peter W. Johnson