Background checks reduce gun violence

Opinion: Letters To The Editor

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by Judy Gaietto-Grace

I find that I must take issue with a number of the statements that John Erickson made in his last piece on universal background checks.  I think that it is fair to say that very few, if any, of our laws are perfect, even after many revisions.  If we refrained from enacting any laws until they are "flaw-free," we would have anarchy.  I also believe that background checks work to decrease gun violence and would be more effective if universal checks were required federally.

Since the Brady Law went into effect in 1994, "background checks have stopped more than 2.1 million gun sales to prohibited purchasers including convicted felons, domestic abusers, fugitives from justice and other dangerous individuals."(20 Years of Brady Background Checks).  Apparently a good number of people who shouldn't own guns do try to purchase them through a licensed gun dealer.  But many convicted felons and others who are prohibited from purchasing guns buy weapons from unlicensed sellers at gun shows and through Internet websites like  The Internet allows gun sales 24/7 with thousands of advertisements at any one time.  Forty percent of guns now sold in America are sold without background checks. 

Some states have passed laws expanding background checks: California is one of them.  It requires background checks for all firearms sales or transfers, including gun shows. Between 1990 and 2009, California reduced its firearm mortality rate by 47.7 percent. (Brady, Dix2012) States that have expanded background check laws to all handgun sales experience fewer violent gun crimes.  In those states, 39 percent fewer police officers are killed by handguns (FBI 2013) and 38 percent fewer women are killed by their intimate partners. (FBI 2010).  Conversely, when Missouri relaxed background check requirements in 2007, the state's murder rate increased 16 percent (Webster 2014). Between 55 and 63 additional murders per year occurred in Missouri between 2008 and 2012. 

To be truly effective, we must have a federally mandated universal background check so that criminals cannot go to neighboring states with weaker laws. Change more often starts locally and spreads outward and upward. We must start somewhere if we want to decrease the number of deaths by firearms in this country. The Oak Park referendum is one step in the process.  One thing we can be sure of is that if we do nothing then nothing will get better. That, to me, is unacceptable.

Judy Gaietto-Grace

Member of Gun Responsibility Advocates

Oak Park 

Reader Comments

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Leroy from West Austin  

Posted: August 6th, 2014 12:24 PM

I buy from Clarence. I asked him about background checks but he says he's not setup wif that, and not to worry cause that's just meant for the bad guys, not us.

Bill Doogan  

Posted: August 3rd, 2014 11:29 PM

Bob- the "responsible gun owners" are mostly NRA hicks from towns south of Joliet like their hero Brandon Phelps from Harrisburg. They are too dense to read the UNLIMITED privacy waiver in his HB183 carry bill "a waiver of the applicant's privacy and confidentiality rights and privileges under ALL federal and state laws" Language provided by NRA lobbyist Todd Vandermyde, not Mike Madigan. Now the State Police can snoop into bank accounts and IRS returns, then share them with the feds. Yeehaw!


Posted: August 3rd, 2014 7:30 PM

If you have seen Freakeconomics, you would know that part of the decline in crime is in part due to abortion increases. Unwanted children who are born into circumastances that breed crime ... Also, the way crimes are counted have evolved. ... So Yes, gun control is a part but it is part of complex issue.

John Q  

Posted: August 3rd, 2014 4:36 PM

Ray Simpson...I really need to review what I wrote that could confuse you to think I made any statement that ridiculous. My comment addressed your comment to Casper about improving societal and educational situations in "those areas" to "do in gangs and drug traders". My response was that you assume there is a high population of people that want your "help." How or why you took from that I think it is my fault, or someone else's, what another adult chooses to do with their life is beyond me.

Ian from Los Gatos  

Posted: August 3rd, 2014 9:32 AM

Crime has been dropping across the nation and it's not due to background checks or gun bans or waiting periods. It's due to education and allowing citizens to exercise their right to self defense. 10 day cooling off period? A joke, why do I have to wait 10 days? Especially when I already have numerous firearms in my possession? All stupid laws do is frustrate the law abiding.

Bob from Clearwater  

Posted: August 1st, 2014 9:42 PM

Allready so many comments correcting the article. I have another. Yes you can buy firearms online, but they must be sent to a federally licensed dealer to be transferred to the fire arm purchaser. The fire arm in question also has to be legal in the recipient's state. Any time a fire arm is sold across state lines it must be transferred. I managed a gun store for years and can count on one hand how many denials happened. As it turned out over half of those were wrongly denied!

BHirsh from Miami  

Posted: August 1st, 2014 3:13 PM

Re: Title No, they don't. If they do at all, it is miniscule. Most of the guns used in crimes are obtained illegally, and those that aren't obtained illegally are obtained after background checks, BEFORE the purchaser commits a crime. The whole background check thing is an illusion. It will stop convicted criminals at the retail point-of-sale, but that's like plugging a hole that doesn't exist.

Rich from Reading  

Posted: August 1st, 2014 1:08 PM

UNDEFINED universal gun background checks lead to Universal gun registration..

Lee Cruse from Denton  

Posted: August 1st, 2014 10:47 AM

The NICS BC does much less that the article claims. Note that on the average on 11 people per year are charged with any crime as a result of a BC and that over half of the denials are ruled as wrong on appeal. So, $300 million a year to catch 11 criminals, is it worth the cost?

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: August 1st, 2014 8:30 AM

@ John Q - So, your argument is that since a small % of our population chooses not to live by the accepted rules of civility - it is our fault? You are the problem - not the solution!


Posted: July 31st, 2014 11:08 AM

The chart is so misleading it is almost an outright lie. Cali. homicide rate in 1990 was 11.9 per 100,000 Nationally it was 9.4. In 2012, the Cali rate was 5.0, while nationally it was 4.7.

John Q  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 10:45 AM

If you saw them in OP today, several of you would wrongly assume they grew up in Austin and didn't have a chance at a better life. People who "know" better do better is a farce. Some people do not want "better" and they prefer their way of doing things and don't think of your way as "better"...just because it's legal. You will generally only see the good side of people as long as you are compliant to their requests and don't challenge them. You can't "help" someone be someone they don't want to

Casper from West Chicago  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 10:45 AM

@Ray No question, your suggested approach is the real solution to stop the violence. Another contributor suggested advances in emergency medicine might be contributing to the decline in the murder rate. He is correct. He points out the fallacy of the silly graph and statistics utilized to manipulate reality. Lower murder numbers do not indicate decreased crime. Chicago has a gang and drug problem that is ignored by the media to push an anti gun agenda as the bodies pile up.

John Q  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 10:41 AM

There is this continuing myth that most people want the same things. We as a society have not accepted that much like other nations and cultures do not want western culture in their everyday life..there are scores of people who enjoy being thugs, criminals and the like EXCEPT during their demise. I know victims of gun violence and perpetrators, that grew up in nice neighborhoods, went to nice schools, came from great families, had everything they needed and even took several trips outside the US

John Q  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 10:38 AM

Ray Simpson, you come off well intentioned so I will spare you the sarcasm. It is extremely idealistic and not pragmatic to assume we can improve societal and educational situations in those area and gang banger and drug dealers will be "done in." Unfortunately, it also is a stereotypical and oftentimes white liberal myth that is being perpetuated by both that community as well as the black community activist demographic. I grew up in and around social service as a recipient and a provider.

more info  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 10:26 AM

Just a little more information on firearm mortality in California. The time frames aren't exactly the same as cited in the letter but there is plenty of overlap and a downward trend is evident. As with most social phenomena the result is likely due to a combination of factors.

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 10:24 AM

@Casper - wouldn't it be smarter to improve the societal and educational situations in those areas and do in gangs and drug traders? We would be better served if we could convince gang bangers and drug dealers that there is a better way to settle disputes instead of killing one another. The guns don't cause the disputes, but are rather the easiest way to settle scores. We all like to talk about preventing gun violence, how about figuring out why anger progresses to murder.

Casper from West Chicago  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 9:01 AM

Some of the roughest neighborhoods in Chicago exist in "trauma deserts". Chicago's gang violence mortality rate would certainly drop if the victims had better/faster access to emergency care.

Uncommon Sense  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 8:29 AM

I wonder how much of that firearm mortality rate decline is due to better emergency care.

Casper from West Chicago  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 7:39 AM

Casper from West Chicago  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 7:35 AM

I agree that we need to start locally to affect change. Maybe this video will point everyone to a more appropriate path.

Steve from Oak Park  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 7:30 AM

Registration leads to confiscation? Should I hide my car?

Casper from West Chicago  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 7:09 AM

Bob There is no objection to background checks. The system is instant normally. The wait is only due to a legislated cooling off period, which is a joke once a person has possession of their first gun. The resistance is to universal background checks. They won't work until every last gun in circulation is registered first, an impossible task. History has taught us registration leads to confiscation. Universal background checks are just a politically correct confiscation scheme.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: July 31st, 2014 6:54 AM

@ Bob: There are back round checks presently. Here in Illinois there is the Firearm Owners Identification Card.


Posted: July 31st, 2014 1:30 AM

So what is the objection to background checks? Besides the inconvenience of time, it seems that it's a good idea to check up on the person buying a weapon. Sure, this doesn't stop the criminals from buying guns illegally, but it is another safety measure to stop some people who should not have guns slip through the cracks. I just don't understand the resistance to something that promotes safety, especially from people that consider themselves "responsible gun owners".

Ray Simpson from Oak Park, Illinois  

Posted: July 30th, 2014 4:17 PM

Interesting that the included graph shows a downward slope for both California and Nationally yet conveniently omits the scale and zero point from the left edge. This is a statistical trick to prove a point without having to prove anything.

Brian Slowiak from Westchester  

Posted: July 30th, 2014 12:53 PM

Thanxs to all for your posts. You take the burden from us on the gun owners side. I have stated before that the gun responsibility side has no working mechanical knowledge of obtaining and using firearms. Ill. is a felony murder state. Any offense resulting in a death.the charge is raised to felony murder. Yet somehow all these straw purchasers never get charged with felony murder. thanxs again for your posts and taking the pressure off of us.

John Q  

Posted: July 30th, 2014 12:30 PM

In the Great State of Illinois a badge bearing cop with an ID to confirm his/her profession cannot legally purchase a handgun and walk out the door with it that day without a letter from his/her department authorizing it. Otherwise they have to wait several days to take possession of the firearm. Somehow great legal restrictions like these have not helped reduce gun violence in Illinois, particularly Chicago.

Casper from West Chicago  

Posted: July 30th, 2014 8:43 AM

I will give the author $100 if she can legally buy herself a handgun from any brick and mortar store or online and take possession within 24 hours without a background check. The author is either a know nothing or a liar with an agenda.

Hipshot Percussion from Lombard  

Posted: July 29th, 2014 9:29 PM

"Between 1990 and 2009, California reduced its firearm mortality rate by 47.7 percent." This is the national rate of reduction for not only firearms but all violent crime (FBI Stat page). It is not just California, nor due to background checks. During this time, gun ownership has skyrocketed and states that allow Concealed Carry has gone from 32-33 states to 50. The 40% figure you spout has been debunked, with the Washington Post giving Obama 3 Pinocchios for the lie.  

Posted: July 29th, 2014 7:10 PM

So many falsehoods in here it is tough to know where to start. First, the 40% of guns are sold without background checks number has been discredited by...the Washington Post among other media. Using makes you sound foolish. Second, correlation does not equal causation. During that same period, new gun ownership skyrocketed in California. I guess we can attribute the drop in crime on all those new gun owners by your logic.

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