Las Vegas Sun

July 27, 2014

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letter to the editor:

Prosecute laws, don’t make more

Another view?

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In response to Debbie Starr’s recent letter, “Senators value money over people”:

Her suggestion was that National Rifle Association’s political donations caused senators to vote against their constituents’ wishes. She cites the often-used “90 percent” poll that favors background checks. I feel that Starr overlooks that polls and statistics can be manipulated by anyone. Was the poll taken using people knowledgeable about gun sales? Where? New York or California would yield far different results than Utah or Texas. How was the question asked?

I think it was constituent contact with the Senate that made the difference. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is one man. NRA membership approaches 5 million. Additionally, it’s estimated that there are another 90 million gun owners who don’t belong to the NRA.

All that in mind, I might be willing to sign on if Starr, state Sen. Justin Jones and anti-gun activists nationwide could answer one simple question: Why doesn’t law enforcement prosecute the millions of background checks that fail and violate existing laws? The background check form states it is perjury to make a false statement. Why do they insist on new laws against the good people?

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Previous Discussion: 8 comments so far…

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  1. John, the polling question has been asked several ways, by several polling agencies, both state-wide and nationally. The support for expanding background checks is overwhelming and undeniable.

    You are correct that enforcement is a problem. There isn't 100% enforcement of current law. That must be addressed.

    However, the enforcement issue is not a logical reason to withhold background checks from sales at gun shows or online. If someone has been adjudicated as mentally ill, they should not be able to waltz into a gun show and buy a pistol, rifle, or semiautomatic weapon. Convicted criminals should not be able to buy a gun online without going through a background check.

    Laws do more than keep us safe or protect order, they are moral barometers that indicate our priorities and values as a society. Enforcement of law is a problem, and should be addressed... AND Congress should close the loopholes and ensure that background checks are mandatory for gun sales.

    I would remind those who claim to be enforcement-concerned that the GOP has blocked the appointment of a permanent Director of the ATF for seven years, as well as have worked for decades to erode the agency. So please forgive me if I think the enforcement argument rings extremely hollow from those who regularly vote for the GOP.

    "Four years after bargaining for the preservation of the ATF, the NRA helped Congress formally handcuff the agency, in the form of the 1986 Firearms Owners Protection Act. The law, which included a handful of token regulations (such as a ban on machine guns), made it all but impossible for the government to prosecute corrupt gun dealers. It prohibited the bureau from compiling a national database of retail firearm sales, reduced the penalty for dealers who falsified sales records from a felony to a misdemeanor, and raised the threshold for prosecution for unlicensed dealing."

    "Perhaps most glaringly, the ATF was explicitly prohibited from conducting more than one inspection of a single dealer in a given year, meaning that once an agent had visited a shop, that dealer was free to flout the law."

    "Congress, backed by the NRA, split the ATF off from the Department of Treasury and stipulated that its director be confirmed by the Senate, effectively giving the gun lobby veto power over who would run the agency. Since then, the ATF has simply gone leaderless. No nominee has been confirmed by the Senate after that policy went into effect--not even President Bush's pick. Without job security, acting ATF directors have had none of the political capital needed to reform the agency or run it at full throttle."

    http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013...

  2. Reports indicate gun homicides down since 1990's. Two reports released [one by the government's Bureau of Justice Statistics and the other by the private Pew Research Center] found gun related homicides dropped from 18,253 in 1993 to 11,101 in 2011 and gun homicides per 100,000 people fell from 7.03 in 1993 to 3.6 in 2010, a drop of 49 percent.

    Ironically a poll [did I say I don't like polls] conducted in March 2013 showed 56 percent of people believe the number of gun crimes is higher than it was 20 years ago. 12 percent said lower. rest said the same or didn't know.

    Carmine D

  3. Ksand99 makes very good points and I favor expanded background checks. However, if those on the side of expanded background checks would like to have the 'best' chance to get them enacted, they would be better served to call their representatives and ask them to push legislation that addresses the enforcement problems that exist today. If the enforcement problem were addressed, it would help to remove an issue that anti background check forces use to derail legislation.

    Michael

  4. Illegals, under Nevada law, are not allowed to carry or own weapons. ENFORCE the law. We don't need background checks--detain, arrest, convict, DEPORT/expel.

  5. CarmineD (Carmine DiFazio): in your 4:44 a.m. comment are you saying that the poll was wrong when it showed "...56 percent of people believe the number of gun crimes is higher than it was 20 years ago?" Or are you saying that too many people have no idea what is happening in this country? If the latter, who's fault is that?

  6. Robert:

    I quoted the poll with no commentary except in the brackets. Draw your own conclusions.

    Carmine D

  7. I can't. You don't bother to say WHICH poll. However, your bracketed comment leads me to believe you question the accuracy of the poll. My only argument would be that 56% seems rather LOW - unless the margin of error is +/- 10%!

  8. Well, Robert apparently you don't read and listen to the news.

    Carmine D