Published DateTo the editor,
I have done my share of reading regarding the issue of background checks and I have yet to find one argument from the gun neurotics that makes any sense. Steve Earle's latest letter is an example of the deeply flawed reasoning I keep seeing. In his latest whine, Steve Earle misses the point completely when he uses the president's statement that checks would not have prevented Newton. Ninety Five percent of gun crime is done with handguns, not mass killing machines. Sensible people see Newtown as a symptom of what Australia's conservative prime minister called "the American Disease" after the Port Arthur massacre in 1996.
Steve then launches off into another exceptionally twisted line of thinking. He claims since prohibition and the drug war have not worked, background checks won't make any difference. That bizarre line of tea party logic is just like saying since laws against rape, murder, robbery, arson, and assault don't work all of the time — well, you get the picture.
The laws we make as a people are statements of our values. Since certain people want to keep the loopholes open that will allow terrorists, mentally dangerous individuals, and criminals to arm themselves, I question whether such people have any civilized values left in them. They have drank the poison. There is something very wrong with these people's heads. Its just terrible to the right wing if a Muslim slips through the cracks but its okay if 30,000 Americans die each year from guns because "screw the world, we gotta have our guns!".
Background checks won't stop all aspiring sociopaths and spouse killers from getting guns but they will reduce the casualties. None are saying we can end the killing but civilized people want to lower the death toll from the American Disease. Background checks do indeed work to cut down on gun deaths. Daniel Webster from John Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research makes it simple enough even for the tea party to understand: "The illogical exemption of private gun sales from background checks is the very reason that criminals don't currently have to obey existing background check laws." Webster's studies have revealed some interesting facts. "State laws prohibiting high-risk groups — perpetrators of domestic violence, violent misdemeanants and the severely mentally ill — from possessing firearms have been shown to reduce violence." One of his studies found that state laws prohibiting individuals under a domestic violence restraining order from owning guns cut intimate partner homicides by 19 percent. Another study found that state universal background checks coupled with "laws designed to increase gun seller and purchaser accountability — significantly reduce the number of guns diverted to the illegal market, where the above high risk groups often get their guns". Webster also notes that gaps in federal laws undermine smart state laws and further facilitate gun trafficking.
The Center found that states without universal background checks had a 30 percent higher rate of exporting guns across state lines that were later recovered from criminals and crime sites. The research also showed that states with loopholes are "associated with significantly higher levels of guns diverted to criminals both in-state and out of state". In another study after Missouri repealed its permit-to-purchase licensing and private handgun sale background checks law in 2007 there were immediate repercussions: "The share of guns recovered by Missouri police agencies that had an unusually short time interval between retail sale and crime — which is indicative of trafficking — more than doubled. The share of crime guns that had originally been sold by Missouri gun dealers rose sharply." According to the CDC, the Missouri gun murder rate rose 25 percent in those three years compared to the previous nine years.
Mr. Earle also goes after polling. As usual, he is wrong. Quinnipiac polling shows that — nationally — 88 percent support expanded background checks. That includes less populated states like Alaska and Arizona which check in at 60 percent and 70 percent. Arizona's Senator Jeff Flake, has taken a big hit since his vote. His approval rating plummeted to 32 percent. And that is the flake from flakey Arizona! We have our own flake that has to go.