Background checks in purchasing guns should be enforced

Guest Editorial–Don Heinzman

The senseless shooting in Arizona raises questions on who should be
allowed to buy a semi-automatic pistol with a magazine capable of
holding 33 rounds of ammunition.

Don Heinzman

Editorial Writer

The senseless shooting in Arizona raises questions on who should be allowed to buy a semi-automatic pistol with a magazine capable of holding 33 rounds of ammunition.

Regulating how to prevent a mentally deranged person from buying a gun appears to be impossible.

Mental stability restrictions are written into federal and state gun-buying regulations, but they are difficult to enforce.

What is possible to enforce is the background check required on all those who buy guns.

In Minnesota, a person buying a gun must fill out a form with vital information used to make an FBI criminal background check on the buyer. That background check is supposed to prevent buyers who have mental problems from purchasing the gun. If the purchaser passes the background check they can buy the weapon.

There are, however, two instances in Minnesota where background checks are not required.  Buyers can purchase weapons at gun shows without the background check and private parties can sell guns to one another without checking on the buyer’s background.           

The Citizens for a Safer Minnesota/Protect Minnesota will lobby the Minnesota Legislature this session to close those loopholes. Most people would agree those exceptions should not be allowed.

Heather Martens, executive director of Citizens for a Safer Minnesota, is looking for a way that gun dealers could become aware of people trying to purchase guns who have been adjudicated mentally incompetent. She suggests gun dealers could then alert other dealers when someone mentally incompetent tries to purchase a gun.

It is easy to buy the semi-automatic Glock 19 pistol in Minnesota, the kind Jared Lee Loughner used to gun down victims in Arizona. One gun dealer say the Glock 19 pistol is a popular one purchased in the state.

From 1994 to 2004, that weapon and the magazine capable of holding 33 rounds most likely would have been banned under the Brady law.  That ban, however, expired in 2004 and was never reinstated.

Under that law, sales of certain semi-automatic assault weapons were banned and the number of rounds in a magazine was limited to 10.

It’s likely most Minnesotans would agree that such a high-capacity assault weapon should be banned from being purchased and the rounds again should be limited to 10.

One good outcome of the Arizona tragedy would be to devise a way to alert local gun dealers of mentally disturbed customers trying to buy a weapon and to bring back the federal ban on semi-automatic assault weapons capable of holding 33 bullets in the magazine.

Don Heinzman, former editor of the Star News in Elk River, is an editorial writer for ECM Publishers. His blog is posted on HometownSource.com.

 

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