The gun debate is again out of the public’s mind because it has been a few months since the latest mass shooting tragedy. Or maybe we just don’t pay attention anymore. That is a tragedy.
Because actually, we’re barely two weeks out from a shooting in a Waffle House in Tennessee that killed four. And on Tuesday officers arrested a young man in Texas who had been planning a massive mall shooting.
We have been more than clear that this country needs more gun laws to keep its citizens safe. Automatic and semi-automatic firearms are just not necessary to secure our fundamental rights.
The most common argument against increased restrictions on gun use and ownership is the fact that in many of the recent mass shootings, laws already existed that should have prevented the attacks. Criminals, though, don’t obey laws.
Which is why enforcing the laws we already have is such a fundamental part of the debate.
And recently, that’s exactly what we’re doing.
Utah Project Safe Neighborhoods partners, including the United States Attorney’s office for the District of Utah, recently announced that individuals who “lie-and-try” to access guns by lying on required paperwork will end up in prison. And so will the person who sold them the gun.
Pamela Manson for The Salt Lake Tribune reported that officials will be cracking down on “federal firearms licensees who sell or transfer weapons to customers they have reasonable cause to believe are restricted from having guns; allow a straw purchaser to purchase a gun for someone else; or fail to keep proper records of the transactions could end up in an adjoining cell.”
Utah’s U.S. Attorney John Huber told reporters at a press conference that guns don’t belong in the hands of convicted felons or offenders who have committed domestic violence. He reminded Utahns that straw-man purchases — when somebody purchases a gun for someone else who otherwise wouldn’t be able to — come with stiff federal penalties, including up to 10 years in prison. And dealers who fail to keep proper records could face up to five.
In the past month, Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera said her team has identified more than 25 “lie-and-try” episodes that she referred for federal prosecution.
We must do more to ensure that madmen, especially previously convicted madmen, or mentally unstable madmen, do not obtain guns legally or illegally.
The increased law enforcement encouraged by Project Safe Neighborhoods is the bare minimum we need to start to solve this problem. Hopefully we can move beyond this bare minimum soon enough.