Published on January 16, 2013
By Warren Koestner, Free Times
Preventing gun violence is front and center as a nationalissue as a result of the tragic loss of life last month at an elementary schoolin Newton, Conn. Clearly there is an elevated national concern for improvingthe safety of all citizens, especially our children.
While everyone agrees that there is no one solution tolessening the number of deaths from firearms, one common sense proposal isalmost universally supported — background checks for all gun purchases.
Licensed firearms dealers, most of which arebrick-and-mortar small business retailers, are required to use the NationalInstant Criminal Background Check System for every gun sold other than shotgunsand rifles.
Since its inception, this policy has stopped the sale ofguns to almost 1.8 million criminals, the mentally ill who have beeninvoluntarily committed to an institution, and others not permitted to own guns. This is a rational,common sense effort to protect the public and law enforcement personnel.
However, those who should be blocked from buying guns oftenaren’t — instead, they simply buy a firearm at one of the many gun shows thatare common throughout the nation or through private sales. It is estimated that40 percent of all gun sales are made by these unlicensed dealers, which are notrequired by federal law to do background checks. Even though several states dorequire background checks at gun shows, 6 million guns a year are sold withoutthis public safety procedure.
The folly of this policy is understood by the vast majorityof Americans who want to close this gun show/private sale loophole.
According to an informal telephone poll of local gunretailers, our office found that the owners of these businesses supportbackground checks at all gun shows and other private sales of weapons.
National polling shows that even National Rifle Associationmembers and gun owners are strong supporters of this policy change:
• 90 percent of gun owners voting in swing-states in 2012support requiring background checks on all gun sales including private sales(GOP Pollster Frank Luntz, 2012)
• 74 percent of NRA members and 87 percent of non-NRA gunowners support requiring criminal background checks on anyone purchasing a gun(GOP Pollster Frank Luntz, 2012)
Gun shows thrive because of the aura of no regulatoryoversight. They take sales and profits from our small businesses and allow muchof this revenue to leave our communities. We should take steps to protect ourlocally owned, small business gun retailers from these private sales that notonly put our citizens in danger but also hurt our local economies.
Frank Knapp, President and CEO
South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce