My good friend John Barrett wrote an opinion piece last week titled, “Why we need universal background checks” [Viewpoints, July 2].

Universal background checks don’t work as intended. We don’t need something that doesn’t work. But you can still want something even if it doesn’t work. The correct title should be “Why we want universal background checks.”

Everyone agrees that felons and the dangerously mentally ill (DMI) should not have access to guns. So how do universal background checks/no exceptions keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the DMIs?

Since 1998, federally licensed firearms dealers have run background checks on prospective gun buyers. The system does a fine job of confirming that law-abiding gun buyers are law-abiding citizens. 

It also does a fine job of bringing to the attention of the authorities felons and DMI individuals who are stupid enough to try to buy a gun from someone who will run a background check that they will fail. (Unfortunately, nothing is done to follow up on these individuals, even though stupidity and a propensity toward violence are a lethal mix.) 

The system, unfortunately, fails at preventing the majority of the large number of criminals and the small number of DMI individuals from getting guns because they don’t buy from sellers who will run background checks!

Eighty percent of guns used in illegal activity come from friends of the criminal or other criminals — they know the buyer cannot possess a gun. 

A prominent former Oak Park village official famously mentioned that just because you don’t think a law will work is no reason not to pass it and that the details of any law can be worked out after it is passed.

But the flaws in a law do need to be worked out before it is passed.

How do we get the criminals and the DMIs to buy guns only from sellers who will run a background check? That’s a pretty big flaw.

Law-abiding citizens legally using a gun will be swept up by universal background checks/no exceptions. How do universal background checks deal with the “exceptions” of letting a friend or family member shoot your gun, either at the range, or (horrors!) in a defensive situation?

That’s not a detail, that’s a flaw — unless you are a Gun No!er (self-described as Gun Responsibility Advocates) who has no contact with guns anyway. 

The Gun Owners (involuntarily called Gun Rights Advocates) have repeatedly asked the Gun No!ers how more background checks of only law-abiding citizens will have any impact upon gun violence. So far, no explanation other than it seems like the right thing to do and it’s for the children.

The only reason to vote “Yes” on the Oak Park Township referendum in November is if you want to feel good about yourself — you certainly won’t be making a difference.

Remember to vote.

Point & Counterpoint

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