Ernie Vandergriff fires at a target during a class for a concealed handgun license at The Shooting Gallery in Fort Worth, Texas, January 17, 2013. (Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT)

Kumar: Gun-law gaps equal gun violence

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Although gun laws and background checks are in place, there are still loopholes and killers falling through the cracks.

By Michelle Kumar

michelle-kumar@uiowa.edu

It’s the end of 2017, and our nation has faced more mass shootings than we can keep straight. It wouldn’t be a shock if we had another one by the year’s end. Every time there is a mass shooting, calls for Congress to “do something” flood social media, but for the most part, the laws remain there.

The men who wrote our Constitution felt that it was important that civilians, if threatened by their own government, should be able to be armed. A complete ban on guns is not going to happen. There is a large misconception in our country that we don’t have proper gun-control laws, when, in fact, we have quite an extensive list of laws for being one of the only developed countries allowing civilians to buy and own guns.

What differs are our state laws. University of Iowa freshman Christian Pint explained Iowa’s process after experiencing it himself working at a gun store and range.

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“If you saw the Snapchat story about ‘Things that are harder to get than a gun,’ maybe in some states that’s true, but in Iowa, not so much,” he said. “You have to obviously have the money to pay for [the gun] and pass a NICS [background] check. From the NICS check, you either get a ‘go ahead,’ or ‘denied,’ at which point that person has committed a crime for trying to get a gun, or ‘wait,’ which means they want to look at a few things, and that can take a couple days. Unless you get the go-ahead, you can’t walk out with a gun.”

When people want a handgun, the same rules apply with one further step: You need to obtain a permit. So if the laws are in place, what’s to account for all the mass murders? It’s the gaps in our system and the lack of standardization. If we can patch the loopholes, we as a nation will have taken a significant step forward.

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There are two ways we can do this. The first is by incorporating mental-health checks and safety training alongside universal background checks.

“I think they should have to be cleared by a doctor, if a person is stable and not wanting to cause harm, they won’t mind the couple extra days that’ll take,” Pint said.

The second is through standard federal and state laws mandating the distribution and use of guns. States either try to pass nullifying laws (even though federal law constitutionally supersedes state law) or have different requirements regarding permits, transportation, registration, storage, and licensing. This is what causes the gaps in our system.

More guns through loose gun laws will not result in fewer deaths. Just because it is in the Constitution does not make it free for all, and just because people break the law doesn’t mean we don’t need laws. The mass-shooting problem in the U.S. is reinforced by partisanship. We all need to take a hard look at ourselves and see what is stopping us from saving lives.

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