Want tickets to the gun show?

Before gun buyers lock and load, they should undergo a state background check.

Vanessa Ramstack

On Jan. 23, a handful of men trickled into an Arizona gun show. Though seemingly unaffiliated with each other, they were all NYPD undercover officers. Each officer attempted to purchase a gun and prefaced the sale with: âÄúI probably couldnâÄôt pass a background check.âÄù This did not matter to the gun dealers; each officer walked away with a newly purchased firearm. One was even able to buy a Glock pistol âÄî identical to the one used in the recent Tucson shooting. ThatâÄôs a little shady, Arizona.
Arizona is not the only state that engages in questionable gun sales: 38 states do not have gun permit laws. If some state legislators have their way, Minnesota may soon join the ranks as number 39.
On Jan. 26, a House public safety committee passed a bill presented by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Wabasha, that would eliminate state background checks on handgun buyers. The bill passed 10-7 on a straight party-line vote. Republican committee membersâÄô main argument for the bill was the âÄúduplicativeâÄù nature of the state background checks with federal checks. Drazkowski assured the committee the bill would âÄú[remove] an unnecessary, redundant and expensive unfunded local mandate.âÄù However, he did not provide a savings estimate at that time.
Rep. Tony Cornish, R-Good Thunder, praised the federal background checks, defending his opinion, saying âÄú[As a cop] IâÄôve been kicked once and shot at twice, and I still believe in this bill.âÄù
As valiant as this comment may be, it still does not close the âÄúgun show loophole,âÄù which allows unlicensed buyers to obtain guns without undergoing background checks. Dennis Flaherty, executive director of the Peace Officers Association, pointed out that the state has access to information from the Human Services Department, while federal law enforcement does not.
The HSD provides information regarding potential buyersâÄô drug and mental health problems.
Bloomington Police Sgt. Mark Elliot said that 37 of 541 Bloomington people who tried to purchase a weapon last year were denied. With only the federal system to rely on, none would have been denied. The federal system overlooks those convicted of misdemeanors such as domestic abuse and gang violence as well as those awaiting sentences.
In the wake of the Arizona shooting, the timing of this bill is at best, insensitive, and at worst, a reckless endangerment of peoplesâÄô lives. Drazkowski and supporters of the bill seem to believe that the answer to gun issues is fewer laws. Instead of focusing on safer communities, they are focusing on local government expenditure. Saving money would be a commendable effort, were it not at the possible expense of lives.
In 2006, the firearm death total in Minnesota was 338, and the firearm injury total was 861. Of the injury count, 45 percent were assaults.
Gov. Mark Dayton commented on the bill, saying he felt âÄúeliminating [background checks would be] unwise.âÄù
If gun owners are confident in their abilities to pass a federal check, there should be no fuss about also passing a state check. Gun owners have rights, but those should not overlook the governmentâÄôs duty to limit gun ownership to responsible individuals.
No one wants a repeat of the Arizona shootings. No one wants a second or third Columbine. State background checks are necessary to keep weapons out of the hands of the unqualified.
CornishâÄôs briefcase carries the sticker: âÄúUse Your Vote to Keep Your Gun.âÄù No thanks, IâÄôd rather keep my safety.