THE BLOG
07/10/2007 10:29 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Why Aren't Criminal Background Checks Required for All Gun Sales?

Did you know that there is no federal requirement for criminal background checks for all gun sales? As a gun owner and avid shooter, I believe in a strong second amendment. But in today's world, it's crazy to allow convicted criminals and suspected terrorists to be able to buy an unlimited number of easily concealable, high powered weapons from unlicensed arms dealers and at thousands of gun shows without even asking to see an ID or running a simple background check.

More than 50 percent of guns sold in our country are sold by private, unlicensed arms dealers, but only federally licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks. In fact, there are documented cases in which al-Qaida, Hezbollah, and IRA terrorists have exploited a loophole in the gun laws to purchase military style, high capacity weapons at legal gun shows where anybody can walk in and can buy guns without having to show ID or go through a simple background check. This is madness.

In the wake of Virginia Tech, the worst gun-related massacre in US history, the only response that some members of Congress are considering is to include some mental health records in the National Instant Check System (NICS) database. But only federally licensed gun dealers use the NICS. This won't do anything about the unlicensed arms dealers that sell up 50 percent of the guns in our country. The sad reality is that the equivalent of a Virginia Tech and Columbine High School massacre happen every day in the US.

You have to have an ID to write a check at your local grocery store, but suspected terrorists and convicted criminals can walk into a gun show and buy an unlimited number of weapons without even having to show ID. It's unconscionable, and the loophole must be closed. The only real obstacle to common sense background check laws is the gun lobby. The National Rifle Association is virtually holding the President and Congress hostage.

The NRA uses political influence and scare tactics to intimidate state and national elected officials. These tactics have contributed greatly to the 30,000 gun deaths and 400,000 injuries that happen every year in our country. We cannot sit idly by while 16 children are killed every single day by gun injuries. The recent accidental killing of 8 year old Liquarry Jefferson in Boston by his 7 year old cousin was not a statistical blip -- he was another child killed needlessly while gun lobby rhetoric fuels the gravestone industry and largely preventable gun violence.

On July 10, Stop Handgun Violence unveiled its newest billboard near Fenway Park in Boston. We're sending a very powerful message to the President, Congress and the NRA -- that Massachusetts, the birthplace of the American Revolution -- is holding the President and Congress accountable for allowing the gun lobby to dictate a failed national gun policy.

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Stop Handgun Violence is working to prevent gun violence by enacting a handful of effective, uniform national laws and initiatives without banning guns.

Stop Handgun Violence is going to bring common sense to the national debate. Common sense solutions such as closing the background check loophole, promoting safe storage, micro stamping and personalized guns, strong support for law enforcement are necessary to get guns out of the hands of criminals, and prevent the majority of gun violence.

Stop Handgun Violence is challenging legislators, gun owners, activists, and everyone else who's sick of the senseless killings to take guns out of the hands of criminals with a sensible, workable national gun policy requiring background checks, stronger gun trafficking laws, and more support for law enforcement.

Our government has been held hostage by the NRA's extremist agenda for too long. Let's set it free.