Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

Letters to the Editor

January 23, 2013

Gun control an oxymoron

JACKSONVILLE — An oxymoron is defined as a seemingly self-contradictory use of words to create an illusion.  "Clean Coal" is an example. "Gun control" is also an oxymoron. If America really had gun control regulations, someone should know how many, what type, and to whom firearms were sold  during 2012. Surprise! There is no record. The Brady Act (Brady Handgun  Vio-lence Prevention Act)  signed into law in 1993 was to be America's gun control centerpiece. The Act mandated that all states and local law enforcement officials perform background checks on all buyers of handguns. The  new database was called the "National Instant Crim-inal Background Check System" (NICS); however, in 1997, one year before NICS became operational, portions of the Act were declared unconstitutional  by the Supreme Court (Printz V. United States).

Thereafter, state and local law enforcement agencies were allowed to conduct their own background checks and forward data to NICS database as they so choose.   In effect,  the mandated reporting requirement contained in the Act was reduced to an "honor system." Some states now perform their own background checks, others rely partly on FBI files, and some states rely completely on NICS. With limited staff for follow-up examination of applications and unenforced penalties for lying on the gun purchase applications, "lie and try" became commonplace on gun applications. In the beginning, the Brady Act required a seven day waiting period to permit the ATF or FBI time for an in depth background  check on  gun buyers. Later the waiting period was re-duced to five days and still later in 1998, the five day waiting period was reduced to an instant background check with no mandated waiting period. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Fire-arms and Explosives  (ATF) is charged with issuing federal firearms licenses and the annual inspections of licensed dealers.

The ATF reported that 16,808,538 gun purchase applications were filed in 2012. However, they also estimate that  40% of guns sold in 2012 were sold at venues that were exempt from background checks and no applications were re-quired. Cuts in the ATF's budget indicate this agency is of low priority in Washington. The agency's 5,000 agents and inspectors are ex-pected to oversee some  50,000 federally licensed gun dealers and countless more pawnshops, gun show vendors, and  private sellers that operate without a  federal firearm  license.  

While the ATF is America's central gun control headquarters they have not had a  full-time Director since 2006, the year that Congress decided that the confirmation of  ATF Directors required their personal approval.   "Gun Control" in Amer-ica is an illusion, an oxymoron created by fire-arms manufacturers to assure the public that all is well while allowing for the speedy and unrestricted sale of their products.  

                                        Terry Thompson

Jacksonville

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