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Mike Elk

Mike Elk is a labor journalist and staff writer for In These Times

February 1st, 2011 5:28 PM

Arizona Gun Dealer Broke Law in Selling Guns to Men Who Could Not Pass Background Checks

For criminals, terrorists, and mentally unstable people buying a gun without a background check is easier than getting a driver’s license. Many of these people can buy guns at frequent gun shows were background checks are not required. In fact, a large amount of weapons came from this type of shows.  

Recently, NYPD sent two undercover investigators to a gun show a hundred miles from the Tucson shoots in nearby Phoenix, Arizona. There they were able to buy on tape three guns with no questions asked. In fact, the investigators told the gun sellers that they were glad they could buy the gun on site since them “probably couldn’t pass a background check”. Saying this to a gun seller who then allows you to buy a gun is illegal.

Federal law prohibits certain categories of dangerous people from owning guns, and licensed dealers can easily screen buyers with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS).   But the system is easily evaded, especially in so-called "private sales" made at hundreds of gun shows around the country every year.

At all locations investigators identified private sellers that failed integrity tests. An integrity test is the legal standard that private sellers are held to and means, if a private seller "knows" or "has reason to believe" the buyer is in a prohibited category, such as felons and drug abusers, it is illegal to go through with the sale.

The gun seller broke the law by refusing to uphold the integrity tests. They were able to buy a Glock 9mm and three 33-round high-capacity magazines -- just like those used by Jared Loughner in the Tucson Shooting. People like Jared Loughner who was refused entry to the Army because he was mentally unstable or people with criminal backgrounds should not be allowed to buy guns

In the United States not only do we allow mentally unstable people prone to violence buy any type of gun they want, but we also through our loopholes we allow terrorist and drug lord to buy massive amounts of guns.  A study recently revealed that a large portion of the guns used in the Mexican drug wars are coming from the United States.  One cartel bought 700 guns at one single store. 

Something must change in order to stop this. Americans actually do support common-sense measures that keep guns out of dangerous hands.

According to a recent poll conducted by Republican and Democratic firms by “Mayors against Illegal Guns:”

* 90 percent of Americans and 90 percent of gun owners support fixing gaps in government databases that are meant to prevent the mentally ill, drug abusers and others from buying guns.

* 91 percent of Americans and 93 percent of gun owners support requiring federal agencies to share information about suspected dangerous persons or terrorists to prevent them from buying guns.

* 89 percent of Americans and 89 percent of gun owners support full funding of the law a unanimous Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed after the Virginia Tech shootings to put more records in the background-check database.

* 86 percent of Americans and 81 percent of gun owners support requiring all gun buyers to pass a background check, no matter where they buy the gun and no matter who they buy it from.

Even polling done by Republican pollster Frank Luntz shows a majority of NRA members support similar measures:

* 82 percent of NRA members were in favor of "prohibiting people on the terrorist watch lists from purchasing guns."

* 69 percent favored "requiring all gun sellers at gun shows to conduct criminal background checks of the people buying guns."

* 78 percent backed "requiring gun owners to alert police if their guns are lost or stolen."

It’s time for Congress to step up and fix these deadly flaws in our gun laws.  The background check system must include all the names of prohibited purchasers, and the loopholes that let criminals evade background checks must be closed immediately.
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