Letters to the Editor

Background checks needed

 

Your June 13 editorial cartoon suggests a misunderstanding regarding the effectiveness of background checks prior to purchasing firearms. A visit to the Federal Bureau of Investigation website informs us that since 1998 the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) has led to the denial of permits in over 1,100,000 cases.

Many of the applicants, slightly over 56 percent, were convicted felons. Other denials were issued to known domestic abusers or to fugitives from justice. In February of this year the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence issued a 20th anniversary report, based upon statistics obtained from the Department of Justice. Since the Brady Law went into effect in 1994 some 2.1 million gun purchases have been blocked. Surely thousands of lives have been saved as a result of these background checks.

Tragically the Brady Law applies to only 60 percent of gun purchases in our country. About 40 percent of gun sales occur at unregulated gun shows or online by unlicensed individuals. The attempt to strengthen background check regulations in 2013 was met with fierce resistance by the National Rifle Association and other gun lobbies.

Under these circumstances it is easy to comprehend why some who are mentally ill can still able acquire a weapon so easily. The recent shootings at Seattle Pacific University, perhaps the inspiration for your cartoon, were horrifying, but unfortunately not surprising given the current state of gun regulation in the United States.

Contrary to the implication of the cartoon, more stringent background checks would undoubtedly save more lives. Recent polls have indicated that nine out of 10 Americans support background checks for all gun sales. It is time for those of us living in the relatively safe Eastside area to advocate universal background checking that would promote added safety for everyone.

William Miller, Medina

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