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All Points West: Staying alive in the gun trade
June 17, 2016 Frank Marquez   

Read more by Frank Marquez

Letís try to be clear about how guns get into the hands of the so-called bad guys. To tell the truth, there are no simple answers.

The subject arises yet again because of a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, which took the lives of 50 people, and injured 52 more early Sunday morning (June 12). Apart from the shooter claiming a terrorist agenda and acting on his hatred of homosexuals, we must examine the moving parts and players to see this doesnít happen again, or here for that matter. We need to make sense of it. A large part of it extends from hatred.
Hatred is becoming infectious, and as much as we like to think weíre insulated from such atrocities in Gering-Scottsbluff, and the surrounding area, we are not. We have our share of violent crimes.

Though there are fewer people living here, the world has indeed grown smaller. There are faster ways to get from here to there, and social media to track our every move. While there is hatred in this world, and in this community, having a gun isnít going to solve the problem of hate.

Striking heart chords, the massacre in Orlando was cause for remembering friends who died in a public shooting several years ago, echoing the refrain of gun violence. On Sept. 6, 2011, soldiers in the Nevada National Guard Ė soldiers I knew well Ė were killed at the IHOP in Carson City, Nevada, after Eduardo Sencion took aim at them with an assault rifle. The victims were Sgt. 1st Class Miranda McElhiney, Maj. Heath Kelly, and Sgt. 1st Class Christian Riege. Scension, who killed himself, reportedly suffered from mental illness. Yet, the unmistakable targeting of soldiers in uniform is something I canít shake.

First, letís make sure we understand the topic, or at least, put it into some practical context; if thatís possible. President Obama repeatedly said in his town hall meetings there is no political agenda and never has been a political agenda to halt the gun trade, or take weapons away from law abiding citizens. Instead, in reality, the government tries to enforce existing laws with whittled down organizations like the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms, and other tactically equipped groups at all levels of government. Under the sheer weight of this task, intelligence efforts are failing as well.

As for how the bad guys obtain and use guns? Ever hear the saying Ďall it takes is one bad apple to spoil the whole batch?í In this case, we canít send the bad guy (sellers or buyers) to timeout. Weíre stuck with them along with all the other irresponsible people involved in the gun trade.

The President in one instance compared industries Ė autos and guns. Apples and oranges? Both being worth billions of dollars, neither is going away. You decide. If, as he said, weíre required to apply for driverís licenses to operate motor vehicles by passing written and performance exams, why donít we do the same when it comes to buying and operating a gun? If youíre wondering, automobiles have been called weapons, and cited in murder cases. Because of senseless auto accidents, federal and state lawmakers thought it was important enough to reduce and eliminate negligent highway deaths. Now, there are laws against drunk driving, speeding, and dangerously constructed roads.

As for firearms, there are no real accountability systems regarding the buying and selling of firearms. Questions on background checks, resale, registration, and obtaining permits, abound. Apparently, gun laws arenít as strict as motor vehicle laws. According to a CNN Money June 2016 report, there were a record 23.1 million background checks in 2015. But those were for federally licensed dealers. Not all guns are sold by federal dealers, and single background checks can represent the purchase of multiple guns. Also consider how gun sales go up every time thereís a mass shooting.

This has never been about politics, nor the National Rifle Association, nor the huge gun mill from manufacturers to sellers to buyers, nor the small arsenal sitting in the house of a good friend back in Las Vegas, and his right to bear them. This is about lives.

To give you a glimpse, not every soldier in war in Afghanistan cared about changing hearts and minds, and given a choice, some would rather have had it otherwise. Regardless of how you feel about your neighbor (If they are tall, short, white, Mexican, black, a woman, gay, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, polka dotted, the list goes on) you cannot shoot them. You may not care for them, but you cannot shoot them. It also matters on if, how and where. More than being against the law, it is a crime against humanity.
Please, take a moment to decide if that fits into how you think we should get along. Or, if any of your neighbors own assault weapons, how do we law abiding citizens know how they intend to use them? We donít, and possibly never will until itís too late.

Anyone can buy a gun in America. Anyone. Yet, there are people who DO NOT take responsibility for it. That is, they do not take the proper training for how to handle a firearm. Even an empty firearm should not be pointed at anyone. I am not the worldís premiere weapons expert, or for that matter that good a marksman, but I do know how to dismantle my weapon. I know how to clean my weapon. I know what makes it work. And, I know why someone would prefer an assault rifle over a handgun, or a hunting rifle.

Most importantly, I understand a gunís deadly nature.
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