Moving swiftly to exploit a tragic workplace shooting in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, a Seattle-based gun control group issued a statement over the weekend condemning “gun violence” that was absent some important facts.
Most importantly, anti-gunners skipped over something that the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette did not. Acknowledging that Illinois authorities dropped the ball because the killer, 45-year-old Gary Martin, should not have had a firearm, the newspaper said this:
“No amount of gun-control legislation — not even a ban on assault weapons — will prevent mass shootings if people manage to exploit loopholes or fall through cracks in the nation’s patchwork system of firearms enforcement.”—Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Martin was legally disqualified from owning a firearm because of a felony conviction several years ago in Mississippi. But WLS, the ABC affiliate in Chicago, reported that after authorities discovered his criminal past when he applied for a concealed carry permit, Martin was advised by mail to turn in his gun and Illinois Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card. He didn’t do either of those things.
Five years ago, according to published reports, Martin had a FOID card with which he purchases a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol. His preliminary background check for the FOID card apparently didn’t catch the fact that he spent time in prison—less than three years—for assaulting an ex-girlfriend with a baseball bat and a knife.
But when Martin applied for an Illinois carry license, that subsequent background check flagged his conviction thanks to his fingerprints, according to published reports. That’s when Illinois State Police told him to turn in his gun, but there apparently was no follow-up to confirm that he had complied.
The Alliance for Gun Responsibility declared, “Something must change.”
But what? The Post-Gazette had some suggestions that may, or may not, be realistic.
“The nation’s conversation about gun control must include ways to better enforce existing laws, realizing that small missteps can have big consequences,” the newspaper said.
Isn’t that what gun rights advocates have been saying all along? Isn’t that why the firearms industry and leading Second Amendment groups support so-called “Fix NICS” legislation?
The Post-Gazette also thinks employers “must be trained to seek police assistance when they have any reason to believe that a disciplinary proceeding or customer dispute will turn violent.”
That’s not always possible, because violence happens fast, and usually without warning, even in the workplace. When seconds count, police really are minutes away, under normal circumstances.
But there is something else that anti-gunners didn’t acknowledge. When Martin bought the handgun he never should have had, he went through the state’s five-day waiting period. That didn’t prevent him, five years later, from committing a heinous act.
The firearms community understands that waiting periods and background checks are no guarantee that someone will be prevented from committing a violent act. Many gun owners reportedly support background checks, and some are even okay with waiting periods, which amounts to one of those “compromises” that anti-gunners are always demanding. But those acquiescences seemed invariably followed by more demands for “compromise.”
The gun control bag of tricks is just about empty. There are thousands of laws already on the books and in this case, enforcement of those existing laws, rather than creating a hodgepodge of new ones, as rights activists have maintained, might have made the real difference.