“. . . It’s very possible he acquired the gun in a street deal, or borrowed it from a friend. But we’re not going to learn anything about who originally purchased it, or where. That’s because — bet you didn’t know this, people — it’s illegal for the authorities who track this stuff to let the public know.
Yes! This is thanks to the Tiahrt amendment, first passed in 2003, which prohibits the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from sharing information with … almost anybody. It also limits the F.B.I.’s ability to hang onto gun background check data, requiring its quick destruction. All in all, the idea is to give gun dealers approximately as much right to privacy as cloistered nuns.
Todd Tiahrt, a former congressman from Kansas, has been out of office since his political career crashed in 2010 because of an unfortunate attempt to move up to the Senate. But his amendment lives on and on and on. As a result, it’s pretty much impossible for the public to know if there are one or two particular gun dealers in their town who’ve sold a whopping number of weapons that were later used in crimes.
“The A.T.F. has a tremendous amount of data,” said Josh Scharff, legal counsel for Brady, the gun-safety advocacy organization. Five percent of gun dealers, Scharff said, are responsible for selling 90 percent of the guns used in crimes. . . . “
“America has been shaken by new mass shootings, in Georgia and Colorado, with at least 18 people killed. This essay originally ran in 2017, after a shooter killed 26 people in a Texas church, but the issue is still tragically relevant — and will remain so until America tightens its gun safety policies.
America has more guns than any other country
The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns — roughly one for every citizen — and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.”
“As I watched President Trump blathering to a group of governors on Monday about
throwing people who have not committed a crime into mental hospitals to prevent mass shootings at schools, I recalled a country where I once lived in which the government had that power — the Soviet Union.
From the mid-1960s until the fall of Soviet Communism, the Kremlin employed the notion of “sluggish schizophrenia” — dreamed up by the Mengele-like psychiatrist Andrei Snezhnevsky — to imprison people on the ground that they were on their way to becoming insane.
Rejected by most civilized nations as a transparent fraud, sluggish schizophrenia was used against dissidents and other citizens who simply dared to seek exit visas. When I worked in Moscow as a reporter in the mid-1980s, I knew an Estonian man who was committed twice for refusing to enter the Red Army during the war in Afghanistan, an act of sanity. It was a literal Catch-22.
Now comes Trump, urging the nation’s governors to return to a time when he said the states could “nab” people and throw them in a padded room because “something was off.”
In fact, the law has required court-ratified findings of actual mental illness for involuntary commitment since around 1881, said Dr. Paul Appelbaum, a professor at Columbia University’s medical school. “It was never the case that people could be involuntary committed for being a little odd, or even for that matter thought to be dangerous to other people unless they had evidence of mental illness,” he said.”
via Gun Smoke and Mirrors – The New York Times
Inevitably, predictably, fatefully, another mass shooting breaks our hearts. This time, it was a school shooting in Florida on Wednesday that left at least 17 dead at the hands of 19-year-old gunman and his AR-15 semiautomatic rifle.
But what is perhaps most heartbreaking of all is that they shouldn’t be shocking. People all over the world become furious and try to harm others, but only in the United States do we suffer such mass shootings so regularly; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.
So let’s not just mourn the dead, let’s not just lower flags and make somber speeches. Let’s also learn lessons from these tragedies, so that there can be fewer of them. In particular, I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence — a public health strategy. These graphics and much of this text are from a visual essay I did in November after a church shooting in Texas; sadly, the material will continue to be relevant until we not only grieve but also act.
via Opinion | How to Reduce Shootings – The New York Times