Expanding background checks for gun owners could hinder crimes

Like many Americans, I was disappointed and frustrated to learn that the Senate voted not to extend background checks for those wishing to purchase firearms, stating that it goes against the Second Amendment, which is the right to bear arms.

President Obama told the nation Monday that "it's a pretty shameful day in Washington," when a bipartisan measure that would have expanded federal background checks for firearm purchases was rejected.

President Obama told the nation Monday that “it’s a pretty shameful day in Washington,” when a bipartisan measure that would have expanded federal background checks for firearm purchases was rejected.

The bipartisan Manchin-Toomey gun bill, devised by Sens. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Pat Toomey, R-Pa., and others, was six votes shy of passing.

Even Senator John McCain, who has long since defended Second Amendment rights, went against his Republican comrades and was quoted as saying (according to cbsnews.com),  “Just as I have long defended the Second Amendment to the Constitution, I have also long believed that it is perfectly reasonable to use available tools to conduct limited background checks, as this amendment prescribes, to help ensure that felons and the mentally-ill do not obtain guns they should not possess.  In my view, such background checks are not overly burdensome or unconstitutional.”

So why did the majority decide to vote against it? According to the Washington Post, some Senators, who voted against the bill, did not vote against it because they didn’t agree with it, but because they had a different agenda.

The Post stated that Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev.) voted no so he would be able to bring it up later.

“The short explanation…is that Reid voted no ‘for procedural reasons’ or because a no vote “allows him to bring another cloture vote in the future.” (A cloture is a procedure for ending a debate and taking a vote. Only someone on the winning side can bring it up again.)

Maybe I don’t understand all there is to know about politics, or why they do what they do, and maybe Reid has been in politics so long that he has cracked the code. However, I don’t like the idea of our Senators playing games with something as serious as our safety and well-being.

If we look at crimes committed in the past 10 years, most of them involved someone who was mentally ill.

Mark Becker killed Coach Ed Thomas in the training room at Aplington High School (Iowa)  in 2009. Becker had been released from a Waterloo hospital only 24 hours before the shooting and was being treated for a mental illness.

Gabrielle Giffords, a representative from Arizona, was shot in the head while visiting a store opening in Tuscon in 2011. Six people were killed, including a federal judge and a little girl. Thirteen others were injured. Jared Lee Loughner was arrested in the shooting and later diagnosed with schizophrenia. His parents said they noticed strange behavior before the shooting and were trying to get help for him.

Columbine, Virginia Tech, the shopping center in Oregon, the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., Sandy Hook; these are all incidents that might have been avoided if authorities had been paying more attention to who was buying arms and where they were getting them from.

I believe every American has the right to bear arms.  Still,  there has to be a way that we can make sure that people are in their right minds when they are buying guns. Too many people are being hurt and killed by those who shouldn’t have guns in the first place.

Would we allow someone who was mentally ill to fly a plane on a commercial airline? Or perform heart surgery? Or be president? Of course not. Why would we allow someone who is mentally ill to buy a gun?

According to the National Institute of Justice, nearly 500,000 people are affected by gun violence every year.  Maybe extending a background check won’t stop criminals from obtaining gun, but it might make it harder for them.

Those who still want to obtain guns, will. We just have to figure out a way to make it more difficult for them to do so. But then, isn’t that what we pay our government officials to do?

You would think so.