Continuing to blog through what I’m learning at the General Board of Church and Society Young Clergy Leadership Forum. We’re listening to a presentation about gun violence from a group called Heeding God’s Call that is blowing my mind. A common argument in debates over guns is that gun crimes are committed with guns that are purchased illegally. Two kids in my former youth group are in jail now because of crimes involving black market guns. So how do black market guns get out on the street? I never asked that question before. Well, I just found out one major way: it’s called straw purchasing and it’s perfectly legal.
Here’s how straw purchasing works. A black market gun dealer goes into a gun shop accompanied by someone who can pass the background check. The black market dealer picks out as many guns as he wants and then the person with the clean background steps forward to swipe the credit card and pass the check. The black market dealer pays his “straw purchaser” and leaves with a bag full of guns which he can then resell to teenagers, felons, and other people who can’t buy guns legally. Then if the gun is recovered during a crime and traced to the black market dealer, he says, “Man, somebody must have stolen that one, I’m really sorry.”
In any case, Heeding God’s Call is calling for what seem like two no-brainer gun policies whether they come through government legislation or voluntary codes of conduct which they have reached out to gun shop owners about adopting:
1) Putting some kind of limit on the number of guns that can be purchased in a month or a year if you’re not a licensed gun dealer. There is no reason to buy 10 handguns in one visit to a gun shop unless you’re going to sell them to multiple people. Somebody enlighten me if I’m missing something here.
2) Making gun purchasers liable for crimes committed with guns registered to them unless they have reported the gun as stolen or lost. I can’t believe that this is not currently the case.