Saturday, December 6, 2008
Guns in The Hands of Criminals-Who's to blame?
On Friday December 5, 2008 the national coalition of mayors released a report ranking the top ten states responsible of the exportation of illegal guns shipped across state lines and used in the commission of crime. The report concluded that North Carolina has the dubious distinction of ranking tenth. West Virginia came in first as the leading exporter with 41 traced guns per 100,000 state residents. They were followed by Mississippi with 39 guns; South Carolina takes the bronze at 31 illegal guns exported. The report titled ‘The Movement of Illegal Guns in America: The Link between Gun laws and Interstate Trafficking” reports Kentucky 4th, Alabama 5th, Virginia 6th, Georgia 7th, Indiana 8th, and Nevada 9th. One of the major questions often asked, is how convicted felons, people mentally impaired and underage kids can procure weapons which are used in the commission of crimes? One of the main ways is through a loophole that circumvents the Brady Law passed in 1994 that requires firearm dealers to have a current federal firearms license and perform a background check through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). When guns are sold at gun shows, non licensees are not required to report to NICS because they are selling from their private stock. This allows criminals to purchase guns without going through any background check. This is a loophole that leaves the general public at great risk. Also disturbing is the fact that only nine states have instituted legislation to close the loophole in the Brady Law.
Another contributing factor is the theft of guns from private residences according to South Carolina State Rep, Mike Pitts. Mr. Pitts believes that it is not the lax guns laws that create the conditions that keep guns in the hands of criminals, but the criminals that burglarize homes to procure an arsenal which they sell across state lines for higher profits. Both sides are responsible. It can easily be argued that many gun owners do not take the necessary steps to protect their firearms. With the danger these weapons pose in the hands of criminals, gun owners can not simply purchase a gun for protection and trust a simple door lock to protect it when they are away. Savvy criminals can easily get past a deadbolt by simply kicking the door in or using a bump key or homemade master key. If the gun owner does not have a security system to provide perimeter protection and police notification of unlawful entry along with a gun safe that is secured to the studs in the floor they have not taken the reasonable and necessary measures to keep these weapons from the criminals that want them so desperately. We can not expect the police to get all the illegal guns off the street, when some of these weapons never would have reached the street if the legislation loopholes were closed and gun owners more responsible.