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Gun Control Advocates Use Aurora Shooting to Call for More Background Checks

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.
AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File

On Friday, another mass public shooting occurred in yet another gun-free zone. In fact, the Henry Pratt Company in Aurora, Illinois, where five people were killed on Friday, clearly displays a “no guns”sign on its frontdoor.


This is part of a larger pattern.98% of mass public shootingssince 1950 have occurred in places where people cant defend themselves.

But as usual, gun control advocates called for more background checks before the facts of the case were even known.

Twice, background checks failed to catch the criminal background of killer Gary Martin. Even worse, the errors that occurred in Illinois were a result of dramatic cuts in funding for background checks.

In a swipe at gun owners, Governor Pat Quinn cut more than half of the budget for the Illinois state police office that handles these checks. Quinn, an ardent gun control advocate, did this to create long backlogs and delays in issuing Firearm Owners’ Identification Cards. Sometimes it seems that Democrats just want to make life difficult for gun owners.

Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA), a prominent Democrat presidential candidate, Tweetedout within an hour of the attack: “It can’t be that we’re sitting around waiting for good ideas. Those good ideas have been had. Universal background checks, that makes sense.” By “universal”, Harris means imposing checks on private transfers of guns.

Rep. Lucy McBath (D-GA), who received $5.8 millionin campaign funding fromMichael Bloomberg’s Everytown for Gun Safety, also advocatedfor universal background checks later that day on CNN: “When numbers of people all around the country understand they could have a Parkland at any time in their communities, I think people are beginning to stand up and say, ‘This just makes sense.’ It’s common sense.”


But background checks on private gun transfers wouldn’t have stopped the Parkland high school attack. Nikolas Cruz didn’t obtain his rifle through a private transfer. He bought his gun from a licensed gun dealer and underwent a federal background check.

Killers haven’t been getting their guns through private transfers. In fact, universal background checks wouldn’t have stopped a single mass public shooting in this century. But CNN’s John Berman, like other hosts, doesn’t put the burden of proof on gun control advocates. He doesn’t ask them to point to a single example of a mass public shooting that would have been prevented by the proposed law.

Much is being made of the fact that background checks failed to stop Martin from getting a gun, but they are drawing the wrong lesson from it.

Before they can buy a gun, Illinois residents must first obtain a gun owner’s license to own a gun. This requires a background check. Then, upon purchase of a firearm, individuals must clear an additional background check. Both times, Martin’s name was checked against the Federal National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). Martin’s criminal record was only flagged after he applied for a concealed handgun permit, for which he underwent a third check. Martin had a 1995 aggravated assault conviction, which resulted in a five year prison sentence.

Undoubtedly, the first two mistaken checks were due to human error. But the fault lies with Illinois.


The media has made much of the fact that, after the third check, police didn’t follow through and make sure that Martin’s illegally obtained gun was taken away from him. But this isn’t due to any loophole in the law. Rather, it was a politically created problem.

The automatic push for the universal background checks makes little sense, as it uses the same federal NICS system. If the problem is human error, why not concentrate on fixing that issue?

This isn’t to say that the former Illinois governor has “blood on his hands.” Criminals can get illegal guns as easily as they can buy illegal drugs. indeed, drug dealers are a major source of illegal guns.

The proposed gun control laws aren’t addressing the problems we face. If Democrats weren’t so focused on gaining political victory, maybe more of them would realize that. Maybe they would notice that killers prey on defenseless people in gun-free zones. Perhaps they could begin to see the benefit in letting people protect themselves.

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