Background checks for gun buyers

I largely agree with Vanessa RamstackâÄôs sentiment in a Feb. 10 column titled “Want tickets to the gun show?” that background checks “are necessary to keep weapons out of the hands of the unqualified,” but I think her advocacy of state background checks in addition to the required federal check doesnâÄôt go far enough.

In both cases, these checks only catch those who have been flagged because of a violation or psychological condition that has been documented. I propose in addition to the normal background check that all first-time gun buyers pay for a basic psychological evaluation. Nothing too onerous, just something similar to that of what police or security guards must undergo. That might help reduce access (through legal channels) to those who are potentially unstable but generally functional.

This idea will surely be anathema to most gun owners and advocates, but unless thereâÄôs self-regulation from the gun industry, it could be argued that itâÄôs governmentâÄôs role to step in and do what it can to ensure public safety.

Guns certainly have many legitimate uses, and by and large it appears that owners use them responsibly, but the small size and portability of handguns and documented potential for mayhem, whether vicious crime or tragic accident, necessitate that their access be restricted to those in whose hands they will not present a danger to society.