Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The only real loophole

Interesting article from The Roanoke Times:
After Virginia closed a loophole that allowed Seung-Hui Cho to purchase his weapons of mass murder, the hope was that more people with mental health problems like Cho's would be barred from buying guns.

That hasn't happened.

In fact, the number of gun transactions blocked for mental health reasons has decreased slightly since Gov. Tim Kaine signed an executive order requiring all people who receive court-ordered mental health treatment to be included in a database used to screen potential gun buyers.

In the eight months following the May executive order, 79 transactions were denied for mental health reasons.

During the same time period in 2006, 85 potential gun sales were stopped for the same reason, according to figures compiled by the Virginia State Police.

As the General Assembly considers bills that would codify Kaine's executive order, it's unclear why his action, taken just two weeks after Cho killed 32 people and then himself on the Virginia Tech campus, hasn't led to more noticeable results.
And then there's a lot of rambling stuff about why this is.

So they go to the real expert on such matters: Ladd "the government must have a monopoly on force" Everitt.
Some say it's too early to judge the effectiveness of Kaine's executive order, considering the short time it has been in effect and the fact that gun sale denials for mental health reasons dropped by just six in the last eight months of 2007.

"I wouldn't call that a statistically significant number," said Ladd Everitt, a spokesman for the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence.

Everitt said the huge amount of publicity surrounding the Tech shootings and Kaine's subsequent executive order might have prompted some people barred from legally possessing a gun to seek other avenues, such as going to an unlicensed seller.

For those determined to skirt the law, Everitt said, all it takes is a visit to an unlicensed dealer at a gun show [why a gun show? why not a back alley or a deserted warehouse? --ed.] or a "straw purchase" in which someone who is allowed to have a gun makes the purchase for someone who is not.

"Given that there are still loopholes, and ones that you could fly a plane through, there are people who will change their strategy to walk through the loopholes that are there," he said.

Those intent on acts of violence will break the law to acquire their tools of aggression. This is the only real loophole, and all the laws you want will never affect it in the least.

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