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.