Native Writes: Who has the gun?


Recent events have caused me to consider what contributes to the motivation of someone who acquires an assault rifle, then commits a “rampage killing.”

A rampage involves the killing or attempted killing of multiple persons at least partly in public space by a single physically present perpetrator using deadly weapons in a single event without any cooling-off period.

If family and friends of someone notice he is acting strangely, there is a new awareness that will draw attention. This may sound sexist, but there are very few female rampage killers since Bonnie and Clyde.

One of the gunmen killed his sister, along with people around her, and then was killed when officers arrived.

We will probably never know his motivation. He left a lot of ugly written material behind and will never be understood.

The other lives on, with a blank look in his eyes and a “manifesto” of hatred to his credit.

Hate is a nasty and unnecessary emotion and a grudge is a heavy burden that can break the soul.

My good friend expressed anger at the consistent mention of the killer’s name and the airing of his photograph, suggesting that there may be “copycats” out there who could decide to do something similar or worse to gain notoriety.

That’s an awful way to attain the “15 minutes of fame.”

I’m old enough to remember the “Brady Bill,” put together after a presidential assassination attempt March 30, 1981 that left Press Secretary James Brady crippled for life and slightly injured Ronald Reagan. It’s been almost 25 years since the law went into effect.

Background checks for firearm purchases became mostly a federally run activity when National Instant Criminal Background Check System came online in 1998, although many states continue to mandate state run background checks before a gun dealer may transfer a firearm to a buyer.

The Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, enacted Nov. 30, 1993, often referred to as the Brady Act or the Brady Bill is an Act of the United States Congress that mandated federal background checks on firearm purchasers in the United States, and imposed a five-day waiting period on purchases until the NCIC system went online in 1998.

The original legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives by Rep. Charles E. Schumer in March 1991, but was never brought to a vote. The bill was reintroduced by Schumer on Feb. 22, 1993 and the final version was passed on Nov. 11, 1993. It was signed into law by President Bill Clinton on Nov. 30, 1993 and went into effect on Feb. 28, 1994.

In its 1997 decision in the case, the Supreme Court ruled that the provision of the Brady Act that compelled state and local law enforcement officials to perform the background checks was unconstitutional on 10th amendment grounds. The Court determined that this provision violated both the concept of federalism and that of the unitary executive. However, the overall Brady statute was upheld and state and local law enforcement officials remained free to conduct background checks if they so chose.

Background checks for firearms purchases operate in only one direction because of the Firearm Owners Protection Act. That is, although a firearms dealer may obtain electronic information that an individual is excluded from firearms purchases, the FBI and the bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) doesn’t receive electronic information in return to indicate what firearms are being purchased.

In my opinion, these laws may have stopped some purchases, but many deranged persons run under the radar, have little or no criminal history and pass background checks. Sadly, someone who wants a weapon can purchase one almost anywhere with enough money.

The place for gun control is in the home. Congress cannot legislate total compliance, but families can practice

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