Saturday, April 20, 2013

Background Checks and Knowing Your Neighbor

Two major things happened last week. Two brothers, twenty-six and nineteen years old, bombed the Finish Line of the Boston Marathon, and the United States Senate failed to pass expanded background checks for people wanting to buy guns.
In the case of the two bombers, who also had assault weapons and fired them at pursuing police, their neighbors and family members all said that they were good kids and had shown no signs of violent tendencies. Doesn't this sound just a little bit familiar? So many times we hear of someone committing a violent crime and find that neighbors and people who knew him or her casually thought the individual to be a pleasant quiet person. For all you know, there might be such a pleasant quiet person in your neighborhood right now. Would you want that person to be able to purchase an arsenal of firearms without a background check? The Senate would...The problem is that Senators think that it will never happen to them, and they think that the votes and contributions from the NRA are more important than the votes of the rest of us.
Last week the violence from presumably innocent people hit my home town, Boston. A campus policeman was shot to death at MIT where I went to school. The FBI had already interviewed the older brother a few years ago. They may or may not have caught his desire to purchase assault weapons if the expanded background check system had been in place. With that system, they would have at least had the chance to spot his moves. Those two brothers were not the only ones among us, perhaps in your neighborhood, who have hidden violent tendencies and reactions to circumstances. Look at all the instances of someone being fired from a job and then returning with weapons to kill former supervisors and coworkers.

Expanded background checks won't catch every potential monster, but they would definitely keep some undesirable people from purchasing weapons. Even the NRA says we need better mental health treatment and need to detect people with mental problems. If someone who has been fired is angry at his or her former supervisors and coworkers, but doesn't own a weapon, they will be delayed in acting upon their anger and will have time to cool down. That's why background checks are usually accompanied by a cooling off period. Expanded background checks won't solve all of our violence problems, but the people they save are just as valuable in the sight of God as you or I. We have laws that identify sexual predators in our neighborhoods. Why shouldn't we keep felons, potential terrorists, and people with mental problems from stockpiling weapons in our neighborhoods too?