Shifting Focus: Gun Control

The recent Las Vegas shooting was the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history, breaking the previous record set by the Orlando shooting just little over a year ago. America’s gun control issue doesn’t lie with whether or not guns should be banned or not, it comes from the issue of who has accessibility to these firearms. Therefore, rather than focusing on the whole debate or banning firearms or not, the United States should shift their focus to finding a solution in how they can effectively control who is purchasing a gun.

Stores such as Dick’s Sporting Goods and Walmart have firearms on display and an extremely simple procedure in purchasing one. In the state of Illinois, you show your I.D. and firearm owner’s identification (FOID) card, answer a few questions, pay, and wait 24 hours before you pick up your firearm. According to CNN, background checks encompass information on immigrant status, felonies, previous convictions, and mental health.Yet the actual information pulled from the background check is limited within each state.  Therefore, the process of being able to purchase a firearm is an extremely lax one, allowing virtually anybody to own one.

Limitations of background checks, especially in terms of mental-health pose a severe issue in firearm accessibility. Many cases of mental health are under-reported every year. In addition, many shooters claim to be mentally ill, but the cases of mental health has not risen. This leads to two possibilities. Either states are not submitting all records for mental health, or the shooters themselves were able to bypass the laws and legally purchase a firearm. Irregardless, the core of the issue comes down to who is purchasing firearms. 

Many shooters also have the option to purchase from private sellers. Federally licensed dealers are required to run background checks, but not all dealers are required to be licensed, allowing plenty of loopholes. Gun shows are a popular location where loosely monitored transactions occur, and no background checks are run.

Background checks and control regulations vary by state. Take Illinois as an example. People are required to apply for a FOID card, which makes it much more difficult for criminals and people with mental issues to legally obtain a firearm, as the process requires a background check that is conducted through the Illinois State Police. Names are run through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, a database maintained by the FBI.

However, Illinois is the only state within the U.S. that requires people to have a FOID card, and is even considered a leader amongst the states for gun control. Even then, gun control laws are much too lax. There are many states, such as Louisiana, who do not even require background checks for the transfer of firearms between two parties, nor does it require gun owners to have a license or register their firearms. There amount of states who actively participate in gun regulation is far too few. 

Rather than relying on background checks to evaluate the validity of a firearm purchase, candidates should be thoroughly analyzed in person by a licensed mental health counselor or psychologist, in addition to having a thorough background check. Candidates should be able to articulate a specific purpose in purchasing a firearm, particularly if they are already owners of multiple firearms. Recommendations from employers or reputable sources should also be a requirement, along with limiting the power of licensed or unlicensed private sellers who could potentially make dangerous transactions.

Though the cost and the process of purchasing a firearm might be a much more expensive and complicated one, it will help to ensure the safety of America and its citizens, for the price of a life is invaluable.