Gun Control

The Gun Show Loophole that has Become a Noose

One of the biggest public health crises in America is gun violence. After the Charleston massacre, I personally was hoping for a more thorough debate of the gun laws in this country. I have been disappointed, to say the least. As impassioned as people have been about the Confederate battle flag–and I agree it is a symbol of hate and has no place in government speech–why are we so complacent when it comes to the tool used to take the lives of nine innocent people? An idea did not take nine people’s lives. They were not killed with a flag. The FBI did not kill those people. A person with a gun did. Period.

There is a new documentary on HBO called “Requiem for the Dead:American Spring 2014.” This stirring film is “made entirely from found footage, including social media posts, 9-1-1 calls, news stories and police files.” The movie covers a period of time ranging from March 2014 through July 2014. The number of deaths continues to rise throughout the documentary with the final number being revealed at the end  (Spoiler Alert!!! it is over 8,000). Every Town for Gun Safety (a community of activists seeking to end gun violence in America) reports that an estimated 88 people per day in America die from gunshot wounds–over 37,000 people a year.

That is equivalent to losing the entire population of Clovis, New Mexico, Panama City, Florida, or Hurst, Texas every year. This is an unacceptable tragedy.

Last night, a story surfaced that the FBI was taking responsibility for botching the background check related to the Charleston shooter’s application to purchase a .45 caliber handgun. Unlike what had been previously reported, the shooter did not receive a gun for his birthday; rather, his father gave him $400 to purchase a gun, which he did.

This is not about the FBI. However, it is about the flawed background check process and the general accessibility of firearms in this country. The Charleston shooter would likely not have stopped trying to acquire a firearm just because his formal application had been denied based on his background check. The truth is, he did not need to pass a background check to legally purchase a firearm. He had the option to purchase his gun at a gun show instead. This is known as the “gun show loophole.” And a majority of states do not require any background checks for private seller to private buyer sales at gun shows. South Carolina is one of those states. To see the map, click here.

The last time I attended a gun show, my husband and I had a gun to sell. Luckily, we were able to sell to a dealer and not an individual. But countless people approached us to purchase our hand gun. When we walked in the door, we paid our admission, our gun was checked to make sure it was not loaded and  a zip tie was secured through the chamber. We did not have to show our I.D. or handgun license to enter the gun show with a gun to sell. Individuals without a gun to sell simply paid their admission and walked right in. If you sell your gun at a gun show to another individual, the transaction is as seamless as trading baseball cards. Someone offers you money, you hand the gun over and the transaction is complete.

This sounds crazy, right? Well, it is crazy! With opposition like the NRA, we may not be able to change our gun laws overnight, but we owe it to ourselves to start somewhere. I propose that closing the gun show loophole is a great place to start.

There is an Alan Deutschman quote that is impressed upon all business students in this country: “Change or die.” Unfortunately, this quote applies here. If we do not change the way we approach guns and gun control in this country, our friends, neighbors and fellow citizens will continue to die.

If you are interested in the trailer for “Requiem for the Dead: American Spring 2014” here it is:

Peace and love.

Guns, guns the magical fruit, the more we have the more we shoot.

I wonder when mass shootings will stop affecting me so much. I think, “Am I the crazy one?” It seems like our country is numb to the collateral damage that our gun laws (or lack thereof) have on innocent lives. My thoughts are with Charleston, S.C. as I write this. When is enough going to be enough? How much more collateral damage will America tolerate? How many more lives will be lost because of an unwillingness to admit that our gun laws are outdated and are endangering all of us? To see a complete list of all mass shootings in the United States from 1982 to the present click here to go to Mother Jones.

The first time I ever shot a gun was with my friend and her dad. He was in law enforcement and very careful and thorough. He taught us gun safety and we had an awesome afternoon. My favorite gun of the day was a .22 rifle, many call this gun a frog killer. I did not fire another gun until 2011 when I got my CHL in Florida. Why did I get it you ask? Because, why not? But let’s be clear, I’ve never been disillusioned that I will never be able (or willing) to put in the time and training necessary to adequately defend myself in a hostile situation. And in my opinion, anyone without advanced firearm training–basically anyone other than police officers and military personnel–does not have the necessary skills to defend themselves either. Anyone who says they do, is a bald-faced liar or simply delusional. Unfortunately for the deniers out there, empirical evidence shows that this is not just my opinion, it’s a fact.

I submit the following to you from 2010:

Study after study has confirmed that more guns does not equal less crime. In fact, as you probably guessed, the opposite is true. If you want to really learn about this, you can download a free paper here published in the Stanford Law and Economics Journal Research Paper Series (you can download for free to an iPad or in pdf). It is too complex to discuss in detail on a blog post.

Additionally, studies repeatedly show that guns are rarely used in self defense in the United States. The Harvard Injury Control Center recently published findings gleaned from an in-depth analysis and review of numerous reputable sources on the topic of gun use and gun violence. They found: (1) “Guns are not used millions of times a year in self defense;” (2) in a vast majority of self defense cases in the United States are deemed illegal and improper; (3) virtually no criminals report being shot by a “law abiding citizen;” rather, most criminals that suffer gun shot wounds are injured while they themselves are victims of unrelated crimes.

Another study from the Violence Policy Center confirms these theories finding:

In 2012, across the nation there were only 259 justifiable homicides involving a private citizen using a firearm reported to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program as detailed in its Supplementary Homicide Report (SHR). That same year, there were 8,342 criminal gun homicides tallied in the SHR. In 2012, for every justifiable homicide in the United States involving a gun, guns were used in 32 criminal homicides. And this ratio, of course, does not take into account the tens of thousands of lives ended in gun suicides or unintentional shootings that year.

That means out of all homicides, justifiable and criminal gun homicides combined (8,601), only 3% of those reported were justifiable, a.k.a. found to be legal after the defendant claimed self defense.

If your Viagra only worked 3% of the time, would you consider that to be an effective drug? NO! 

So why on earth do we continue to continue to suggest the same ideas to solve the same problem? Let’s arm church goers! Let’s arm state university employees and students!

IT’S NOT WORKING.

How many lives have to be lost before we wake up? Remember, it could be you or a member of your family that is affected next. Nowhere feels safe anymore. But I guess I do not have a right to feel safe in public if it infringes on your right to play cowboy in my neighborhood grocery store, theater, church and public parks. We have lost the right to not be around guns. ‘Merica!

**Side bar** One flaw in the Violence Policy Center’s study I found is that it does not disclose how many of the defendants involved in the 8,342 criminal gun homicide convictions actually claimed self defense. Thus, take that portion of the study with a grain of salt. As usual, question everything wise readers.

Peace and love.