D. Relph: Background checks pose problems

Background checks for firearm purchases may be a good thing. However, identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the nation.

A real background check would require a database of all U.S. citizens that could be accessed by secured computers. To do that, a law would have to be enacted at the federal level. Otherwise, some crook may be carrying around a firearm in your name. Birth certificates and Social Security cards can easily be obtained illegally or forged.

Background checks also involve labeling “undesirables.” Excluding felons is easy, the courts decide that when they convict a felon. We might consider the ones who suffer from mental illnesses, but which ones? The ones who are labeled psychopaths and sociopaths? Should we also exclude those who suffer from PTSD, depression, alcoholism or other afflictions? How high will the bar be raised?

In the former Soviet Union, people were labeled insane and incarcerated because they didn’t agree with the government. Will the courts go through the process of declaring a person incompetent to carry a weapon or will it just be decreed?

If there is such a thing as due process then some form of public hearing will be required to decide. That will be required in order to uphold the Fifth and 14th Amendments for each individual excluded from owning a firearm. We should also consider how such a law will affect the concept of equal protection under the law.

Daniel Relph, Lewiston

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Comments

CLAIRE GAMACHE's picture

Crime

The notion that background checks will not stop crime is not a valid reason to dismiss them. Identity theft does occur but I don't see people closing their bank accounts because of it. What needs to happen is stepped up law enforcement. This means tax payer paid law officers and technology to accomplish this. Same goes for databases. Labeling of fellons already occurs when the courts pronounce them guilty. As for mental health issues, that already occurs when someone is pronounced criminally insane by the courts and mental health providers can be required to notify law enforcement when they think someone is a danger to themselves or to others just as teachers and counselors are required to report suspected child abuse. I would add to that people who threaten gun violence and people who have protection orders on them at least until they sober up or the protection order is lifted. We do not eliminate road rules because people speed or drive recklessly we step up enforcement. That seems logical to me.

Jonathan Albrecht's picture

Claire, you are right but I think not quite correct on everythin

I believe notification to the NCIS does occur when a person is convicted of a felony, but only people adjudicated for compulsory commitment to a mental health facility by a judge goes on the NCIS. Then states rarely do their part and inform the NCIS of either of these situations. More worrying, only California sends police officers to the residences of new convicted people to verify that the residence is firearm free. Enforcement, which the NRA has championed opposing, is necessary - anyone who fails a background check need to be checked by police and those who knowingly broke the law prosecuted.
More prosecutors, more police, more commitment by law-abiding citizens.

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