Lead from in front

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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Oak Park prides itself on leading the nation in good ideas, so said the members of the responsibilities side of the Gun Rights/Responsibilities Committee.

Do they mean leading from the front or leading from behind? 

California, Maryland, Connecticut and New York have already passed the same laws that are proposed by the Responsibilitists.

Criminals, and to a much lesser degree the dangerously mentally ill (DMI), commit almost all of the gun violence the USA. I know lots of law-abiding citizens who will and do knowingly and intentionally transfer guns to criminals/the DMI — Not!

Criminals/DMI get guns from friends, family members, corrupt FFL dealers, illegal/unlicensed gun dealers and straw purchasers. These gun providers all know what they are doing is illegal. The only thing that needs to be done differently with this bunch is to actually arrest and prosecute the individuals involved (apparently a novel thought to some). Stealing from law-abiding gun owners does occur but accounts for less than 15% of guns acquired by criminals, per ATF records.

Legal gun owners know if family members or friends are not allowed to possess guns and, much to everyone's surprise, do not provide them with guns! Nothing is gained by taking any action with these transactions. 

What about persons unknown to the citizen interested in selling a gun? Currently lacking is an available and accurate list of those who cannot legally possess a gun. 

The only way a private citizen can tell if a potential gun buyer is a legal gun owner is by using his/her own judgment. Gun dealers do this on a regular basis, but they get a lot of practice in assessing the legitimacy of customers, and their livelihood is on the line. (In Illinois, an individual can ask to see the buyer's/transferee's Firearm Owners Identification (FOID) card, but there is no way to check on the current status of that card.)

Universal Background Checks of those who cannot legally possess a gun could morph into a national registry of who cannot possess a gun (isn't that the idea?). This will also allow access to something the government and the public should already know.

Currently, the public knows who can possess a gun. This is worthless because law-abiding citizens do almost none of the gun violence each year. The public needs to know who cannot have a gun — these are the individuals who commit almost all of the gun violence each year.

The government does not need to grab guns from law-abiding citizens. The government needs to grab guns from criminals and the DMI.

Illinois has an operational Firearm Owners Identification Card (FOID) system that tracks potential legal gun owners in the state.

Leading from the front? Leverage the Illinois FOID system to get guns out of the hands of criminals and the DMI.

John Erickson

Oak Park

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