Delaware should require background checks for gun purchases

April 9, 2013

Four months ago, the murder of el­ementary school children in Newtown, Conn., again dragged the issue of guns and who owns them into the national spotlight.

That tragedy, added to continuing violence in Wilmington and increasing violence even in Sussex County, has prompted Delaware lawmakers to do something to get weapons off the street and to make it harder for people who are not entitled to own guns to purchase them.

Gun lobbyists have long opposed gun-con­trol measures with the slogan, “Guns don’t kill people; it’s people who kill people.”

If that’s the theory, then what can be done about it? If the problem is the person who pulls the trigger, then one way to reduce gun violence is clear: Don’t let people buy guns if they are not permitted to own them. That means requiring background checks for people who want to purchase guns.

Those who want no restrictions on gun ownership have launched a new fight against background checks, insisting that background checks are the first step in a short march to a national gun registry. But in Delaware, the bill to require background checks passed the state House with an amendment that prevents a state registry of gun owners.

Even with that amendment, gun lobbyists still find a way to oppose the effort to make it harder for criminals to buy guns.

Many responsible people in Sussex County are gun owners, and if local gun shops offer any indication, more people are purchasing guns every day. Basic background checks are not preventing responsible people from ob­taining the guns they want. Expanding back­ground checks to private sales is a reasonable way to make it harder for people who are not permitted to have guns to get them.

Will any law prevent criminals from getting guns? Of course not. Criminals by definition break whatever laws they feel like breaking. But will it make it harder for criminals to obtain guns? The answer, as law enforcement officials up and down the state have said, is yes.

If people are the ones who kill people, then gun lobbyists should join in the effort to pre­vent violent people from purchasing guns.

  • Cape Gazette editorials are considered and written by members of the Cape Gazette editorial board which includes Dennis Forney, publisher; Trish Vernon, editor; Dave Frederick, sports editor emeritus; Laura Ritter, news editor; Jen Ellingsworth, associate editor; and Nick Roth, sports editor.

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