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Preventable deaths

By Nick Zeckets
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
March 21, 2000
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City Councilman Jose Ibarra recently proposed a ban on gun sales by private retailers at gun shows. The ban is designed to level the playing field for licensed sellers who must pay taxes, while at the same time keeping criminals from procuring firearms. Fighting this ban is a bad idea. Guns are dangerous enough in legal circulation, but giving criminals and the mentally unstable opportunities to buy them is downright stupid.

Jim Franko, a licensed gun dealer who sells at gun shows, was upset by the proposal, stating that he "won't spend a nickel in Tucson anymore if that passes. I'm dead against them restricting." Well, Mr. Franko, wake up. Look at the newspapers and attempt to appreciate the impact of guns on murder rates in this country.

Every year, approximately 14,000 people die as a result of handgun use in the United States. In other nations with stricter handgun laws, rates are much lower. Last year, Australia had 13 handgun deaths, the United Kingdom had three, Sweden had 36, Japan had 60, Switzerland had 97, and our neighbor to the north, Canada, had 128. Rates in the United States were as much as 1,000 times higher. Those statistics cannot be misinterpreted. There are enough deaths already, but allowing people who may be criminals or mentally ill to purchase them is utterly stupid.

David Morse, licensed to sell guns and owner of Firing Pin Enterprises of Phoenix, said that he was for selling guns without background checks, saying, "As long as people aren't doing anything illegal, why should they be stopped? Most people are reasonably careful about who they sell to." The operative word in the quote is "reasonably." As reasonable as private retailers might be, anyone can put on a trustworthy face. Retailers are not equipped with lie detectors and would probably rather not know. Allowing guns to be sold to practically anyone is trouble.

Use your imagination for just a moment. Joe Convict walks into a gun show after six years in a federal penitentiary with one thing on his mind, revenge. DA Whoever sent him to that hell-hole and he is going to pay. The only thing that kept Joe going was knowing that he would have the chance to look at his incarcerator's tear-filled eyes and place a 45 gauge bullet between them. All he has to do is act normal at a gun show and obtain his weapon of choice. Passing Ibarra's ban would remove this opportunity.

Private citizens selling or trading guns require no background check. Why should that exchange be any different from a gun dealer making the same trade? Guns for money or guns for guns, it matters not. Background checks are well designed and have a good purpose: to keep people safe. Are guns sold in shows any less dangerous than those sold in gun shops?

Evidently, gun show retailers seem to think that their guns are special. By the divine grace of a higher authority, gun show guns can't fire deadly bullets. They can only make holes in targets featuring the faces of enemies and cops, and large forest creatures that have a propensity to create large dents in misguided SUVs. It's all so clear now. Buying guns from licensed dealers is a sign of a murderous demeanor, but buying from private citizens who have no clue what miscreant they may be selling to is safe.

Jose Ibarra is not a crazy liberal trying to limit our rights and control our lives. The Bill of Rights still stands, and we can still bear arms. Militias still stockpile, so you know we've got to have death pistols on hand. However, some people have lost that right. Criminals, especially those who have committed violent crimes in the past, gave up the right to carry such a weapon, and Ibarra's ban will keep them from gaining access to them so easily.

Resisting the ban can only mean one thing: you're a money-hungry private citizen selling guns who cares nothing for the lives of those around him. One day, irony will bring the ban full support when an ex-con decides to take the life of the man who sold him the gun without a background check. I pray I'm not in the line of fire. Gun control equals better sleep.

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