Why Rely Upon The FBI For Rifle Background Checks?
This is one of those stories that makes you question how backward this country really is. Without engaging in a debate on the now-expired federal assault weapons ban, the NRA’s “guns don’t kill people” logic used to defeat firearm regulation, or Democratic efforts to convince gun owners that we aren’t out to take their guns, perhaps someone can justify why dozens of states rely upon the FBI for background checks on those who apply to purchase long guns.
Despite being denied a permit by police to buy a handgun last month, Anthony LaCalamita III had no trouble buying a shotgun a few weeks later.
Police say the accountant bought the 12-gauge shotgun Friday — the day after he was fired — and used it Monday to shoot three people at his former office in a Detroit suburb, killing a secretary and wounding two executives.
LaCalamita, 38, was able to buy the shotgun because Michigan, like all but four states, doesn’t require a permit to buy a shotgun or rifle. The state is one of only 12 states that require background checks for handgun buyers, but those buying shotguns or rifles need only pass an FBI criminal background check.
And that FBI criminal background check is flimsy, worthless, and woefully deficient compared to what local and state law enforcement does.
Despite what his estranged wife’s attorney said is a history of depression and mental health problems, there was apparently nothing in LaCalamita’s FBI background check that prevented him from buying the shotgun. It’s left up to applicants to admit on their FBI background check form if they have psychological problems.
When LaCalamita requested a handgun permit last month from the Troy Police Department, the check was much more extensive.
Department spokesman Lt. Gerry Scherlinck said he couldn’t comment on why the department chief turned down LaCalamita’s request for a handgun permit. But he said the department looks at records that go beyond arrests or convictions.
“Theoretically, you could have a clear criminal history but still have contacts with law enforcement that would not rise to the level of an arrest or conviction,” Scherlinck said. A police chief “can use those contacts to deny a permit whether or not those involved arrests that might show up on a criminal history.”
Requiring local or state background checks on all shotgun or rifle purchases can be done now if each state and its legislature have the guts to overcome the usual Second Amendment blather from the NRA. But it is negligent for these same states to rely upon an applicant-completed FBI questionnaire and screening, when the bureau under the Bush Administration has become dysfunctional, probably by design.