important notes on recent shooting in virginia.
hey guys, hope this finds you well.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, a mass shooting has occurred and people are jumping to all sorts of conclusion regarding gun control options and pushing ideas that "would have helped," in a search to try to control an uncontrollable situation, which in this case was a fluid human situation in which somebody with no indications of mental instability or issues that would have flagged him in a background check snapped.
one such example of "was to deal with" the situation that has been pushed again is the universal background check bill that is authored/championed by Congressman Mike Thompson, as a means to deal with such situations, on the premise that a universal background check would have somehow prevented this situation.
without knowing much about gun laws already on the books, some have used this most recent tragedy as a way of pushing for this once again.
the purpose of this blog is to cover a couple of the facts we know about the shooter and why the universal check wouldn't have made a difference.
1) based off of media reporting, the shooter in Virginia beach passed a background check in virginia, his home state, called VCHECK. Vcheck is run by the virginia state police and taps into 4 different state databases, as well as the federal NICS system in order to determine whether or not he is eligible for firearm ownership. the combination of both state and federal checks works similar to California's DROS system, and would have denied him should there have been any issue with his background check. this individual bought two 45 caliber pistols, and had bought them recently enough that were there current information that would have flagged him for a denial, that it would have.
2) the shooter used a legally purchased Suppressor. Suppressors are NFA (national firearms act) regulated items, and they are registered with the NFRTR. NFA items have their own unique background check system wherein a current photo, fingerprint card, special application, and fee are all submitted to the ATF for an FBI background check, no unlike what an FFL goes through when they apply for a Federal license. these checks can take as much as 300 days to complete, though in most cases they are completed within two to three months. they are thorough and more extensive in terms of data collected than most firearms purchases, and for good reason- they are regulated in a much more tight manner.
again, were there anything in his background that would have flagged him, not only would he have failed his recent handgun purchase attempts, but also the NFA check he would have had to complete to legally obtain the Suppressor.
the assertions that somehow universal checks would have prevented this particular attack are based in a lack of knowledge of how background checks work, and what does or doesn't happen in them.
I have found several instances in having conversations with non-gun people who have the opinion that outside of California, background checks are like the wild west, which is simply untrue. I've actually had some pleasant conversations with people who are outside of the know with regards to the topic, but as a whole, we seem to be fed a lot of misinformation on the premise that a bill or a new law would fix a problem or loophole.
while I do not disagree that background checks should be thorough, and that some issues with the 4473 itself which have allowed people to slip through the cracks due to not meeting the criteria for denial need to be addressed, or even situations involving agencies which were meant to catch these flags in the first place but didn't either due to lack of time or lack of funding and manpower which need to be addressed, I do not believe it's appropriate to push for restrictions or more laws that really wouldn't have prevented situations like this particular one from happening in the first place, which has been a cornerstone of Mike Thompson for a while now.
what we really need, are more mental health services in order to help people with obvious or not so obvious mental disorders, yet these services always get cut by state and local governments. what we also need is state, local, and federal compliance in reporting accurately to the NICS so that the agencies can do their job.
without those two things, in addition to thorough background checks, we will end up fighting an uphill battle, in large part because it involves the seemingly rapid decline mental health and quality of life, which seems to play a huge part in exacerbating these issues.
any push that doesn't include these kinds of things, will all but fail to address the issues.
The reality of our country is that we blame the inanimate objects like guns, for these tragedies, because they're easy to control, under the assumption that if they just didn't exist, these things wouldn't happen. but this may or may not be true, and realistically speaking, it's proven to be false. much harder than that is addressing the human element, and I would submit, that it's way past time to address what's going on with our friends and neighbors that causes things like these tragic events to happen.
for all those who would compare guns and mass shootings to an abusive relationship, and that the only way to solve it is to get away, consider the fact that even in abusive relationships, the problem seldom goes away, even if you get rid of the abuser and move away from them, sometimes, they come back, and they still do that behavior even though you've tried to get away from them, and at some point, you have to deal with the elephant in the room directly.
mental health and the human element with regards to shootings is that elephant in the room, and it needs to be dealt with, especially at a time where we're more and more complicit in drug use as a means of tax revenue for cash strapped states. until income inequality is addressed, people will be angry- until over taxation is addressed, people will be angry- until traumas are addressed, people will be angry- until shaming of our fellows for things they didn't do is addressed, people will be angry- until the habit of virtue signaling over issues that don't require the outrage they are generating, people will be angry. people have shown, that in absence of guns, they will still commit atrocities out of anger at the state of their world, so it only makes rational sense to address what's going on, which is much more difficult and takes much more courage on the part of our leaders in order to address: namely how we treat and care for eachother, or the lack there of.
until these things are addressed, things like this will continue to happen.
as always, stay safe, and sane, especially with the coming 4th of july holiday.
Ken Kraushaar is a gunsmith working out of his shop in sonoma county california, and has been involved in the shooting sports for over 30 years.