Saturday, October 17, 2009

Civil liberties verses public safety

The New Hampshire Department of Safety has ordered police to stop running background checks before returning confiscated firearms to owners. The National Instant Criminal Background Check system is supposed to be used only by federally licensed gun manufacturers, dealers, and importers, to research buyers before selling them firearms.

That's all well and good. However, if a citizen has a run in with police and that citizen is in possession of a firearm, it is in the public's best interest to make sure that that citizen has not done anything since the acquisition of that firearm to possibly revoke the privilege of firearm ownership.

While this may seem like a violation of Civil Liberties, let's consider a different scenario. A police officer pulls you over for speeding. He runs a routine check on your vehicle and on your driving record. He finds out that you have had your licensed revoked or suspended. Therefore you are not allowed to drive your car away from the scene.

THE NICS database tracks whether persons have any of the following disqualifications for having a firearm license according to the FBI NICS index:

1) Persons who are aliens and are illegally or unlawfully in the United States
2) Persons who have renounced their U.S. citizenship
3) Persons who have been adjudicated as a mental defective or have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution
4) Persons who have been discharged from the U.S. Armed Forces under dishonorable conditions
5) Persons who are unlawful users of or addicted to any controlled substance
6) Persons who are federally disqualified when a record is not already included in the NCIC or the III.

Items in bold above are things that can change after you initially get a license for a firearm.

Considering how many factors can change, why on Earth would it be incorrect to check the database for someone who has a firearm who has recently garnered the attention of law enforcement?

Considering how many disturbed individuals go on shooting sprees every year, I think it ought to actually BE a requirement to check the database.

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