It’s Not About New Laws, It’s About Implementing the Ones We Have

Courtesy YouTube and SHOT Show

By Larry Keane

The murders in Aurora, Illinois, reveal the inability or unwillingness of many in authority to ensure that our existing laws are working. The convicted felon who murdered five at his workplace last week should never have had a gun. We need to know why that happened so it can be fixed so it never happens again.

We already have the laws we need to stop the criminal misuse of guns. Drafting new laws, especially since nearly all proposals affect only the law-abiding, distracts us from the real solutions that are at hand. Getting these priorities backwards can and does cost lives.

We need political leaders who will assume responsibility for ensuring law enforcement agencies have the resources and authority to carry out their responsibilities. Those agencies must ensure they are doing what the law was intended to do.

Implementation is the Hard Part

That process, accomplished out of the public spotlight, is a whole lot harder than holding press conferences and passing new laws. Successful implementation of laws and continuing oversight does not make news. Lax, inadequate, misfocused or neglected enforcement does make news in the form of tragic incidents.

Since the news broke in the Illinois case, we’ve learned the murderer had been convicted for felony aggravated assault in Mississippi in 1995. One report said he’d bludgeoned and stabbed his girlfriend, which was documented in the victim’s own words in police records.

He served less than three years of a five-year prison sentence and continued to tangle with law enforcement. He was arrested six times by Aurora Police for traffic and domestic violence issues, including a 2008 arrest for violation of a protective order. Nearby Oswego police arrested him in 2017.

Despite his 1995 conviction, this felon was granted an Illinois Firearms Owner Identification Card (FOID) in 2014. Aurora Police Chief Kristen Ziman said the man’s past record “would not necessarily have shown up on a criminal background check conducted for the FOID card.” Successful applicants must not have been convicted of a felony. Disqualifications include domestic battery offenses. Just days after being issued this FOID, the murderer purchased a handgun.

Sending Out a Letter

Only when the murderer applied for a concealed carry permit did authorities ascertain his criminal past and that he was a prohibited person. They denied the permit and sent a FOID revocation letter to him, but no one acted to recover the firearm they knew he had. One report noted that Illinois State Police lacks the manpower and relies on an “honor system.”

The result of this poorly thought-out system is that the murderer took a gun he should have never owned, and the State Police knew he possessed, into his workplace. Moments after being fired, he began killing his co-workers.

Giffords Law Center rated Illinois “B+” for enacting strict gun control measures, ranking it 8th among all states for strengthening extreme risk protection orders, violence intervention programs and extended firearms purchase waiting periods. Illinois has some of the strictest gun laws on the books. Where is the grade for the oversight to ensure that those laws work? It’s not enough to pass a law and move on.

Passing a new law is exactly what the Illinois legislature did. In a move that will do nothing to make our communities safer, Gov. J.B. Pritzker recently signed a duplicative law to regulate firearms retailers already subject to federal regulation. Legislators are considering more new laws, including additional taxes on guns, requirements to turn over social media accounts to buy guns and bans on entire classes of firearms.

Presidential Hopefuls Want More Laws

It’s not just Illinois, of course. Democratic presidential hopefuls call for more laws. Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar tweeted that America needed universal background checks, despite these very checks failing to stop the Illinois murderer.

California Sen. Kamala Harris cites the need to ban so-called “assault weapons,” despite most murders being committed with handguns. Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren blames the NRA for a public health emergency she claimed could be cured by more research. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand demonizes the firearms industry for what she said is indiscriminately selling guns to criminals, terrorists, children and the mentally ill.

Sen. Gillibrand should know that it was the firearms industry that provided the model for trying to ensure that existing law works better in the form of the successful Fix NICS legislation to incentivize states to submit all disqualifying records to the FBI’s National Criminal Information Center that is searched as part of a background check to purchase a firearm. She co-sponsored and voted for this legislation before it was signed into law last year by the President. She, and these other politicians who run on gun control promises, conveniently ignore the fact that it is the firearms industry that runs programs to keep guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them. The industry works with ATF to prevent straw purchases and better secure retailers against thefts.

Our industry is integral to a national partnership to help prevent suicides with firearms, and our industry has rolled up its sleeves to be involved in implementing real solutions that work to make our communities safer. It’s time our elected officials do the same.

 

Larry Keane is SVP for Government and Public Affairs, Assistant Secretary and General Counsel at National Shooting Sports Foundation

comments

  1. avatar Defens says:

    “Enforce the laws we have” – perhaps that used to be true, back when the laws were actually punitive. Now with all of the malum prohibitum laws on the books, about 70% of the gun-related laws should be repealed. Or ignored.

    1. avatar Eric in Oregon says:

      This, 1000%.

    2. avatar 41mag says:

      I lived in Aurora for over 10 years.
      They still have the Clinton AR-ban law on the books. Couldn’t get an AR from JR Sports bc of that law.

      Did that ban stop this? Of course not.

  2. avatar former water walker says:

    MEH…just wait for the lawsuits against Pratt in Aurora. Call the murderous cretin into work to fire his criminal azz. Duh…my wife managed a hotel years ago. She never called anyone in to fire them-neither did I when I was employing salesmen. Going on and on about the FOID…shall not be infringed! Hell is coming to ILLinois.

  3. avatar Chris T in KY says:

    I simply don’t believe the overseer’s want to stop criminals from getting guns. They want to use the shooters, like the Aurora gunman Gary Martin, as a pretext to confiscate law abiding gun owners property. Without compensation.

    It was not an accident that this known criminal was allowed to get a gun. Just as the Federal government under Obama, ON PURPOSE, PREMEDITATED, allowed guns to be sold to mexican gangsters. The authorities in Chiraq are lying through their teeth.
    Can I prove it? No.
    And no one will go to jail, or lose their job, or even be suspended for the “failure” of government.

    1. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Chris….. You are correct as far as I am concerned. They allow these criminals to purchase firearms and constantly let them loose on society to get crime and deaths to such a problem so people will get desperate enough to surrender their rights for ” safety of gun control”. They never owe up to the fact that most of these public shootings in the news are in gun free zones and locales where gun restrictions are in place.

  4. avatar Texican says:

    More like we should repeal every unconstitutional gun law(almost all of them are) and let the chips fall where they may. Without stupid laws getting in the way more people would be emboldened to buy a gun and defend themselves. And lots of bad guys would come to an end or take up a different line of work!

    1. avatar James A. Farmer says:

      Texican and Jay are both correct: Repeal every deceitful damnable vile anti-gun/gun
      control law at the local, state, and federal level. But don’t stop there. Expose the treasonous career criminal politicians from our nations shameful past who perpetrated such: Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ), Thomas Dodd (D) of Connecticut: LBJ’s corrupt lieutenant then in the U.S. Senate and fabricator of GCA ’68, Ted Kenney, the Clintons, etc. Including too both the Earl Warrren Supreme Court and his nine justices of high treason, as well as the the Warren Burger Supreme Court. Our government controlled
      socialist public schools, colleges, universities, and academia have whitewashed these
      crooks for generations! It’s time the American public starts knowing the truth about
      them which continues to be censored, concealed, covered up, and hidden!

      Klamath Falls Herald and News: Tuesday, September 27, 2016/Letters To The Editor

      Trump description would fit LBJ well

      In her Sept. 20th letter Sandy Couch describes Donald Trump as “narcissistic and egotistical.” That is an accurate description of Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) , perhaps the worst president in American history.

      Unfortunately, an issue doesn’t disappear simply because it’s been ignored, censored, covered up and concealed for decades.

      Also, the legacy of deceit, abuse of power, and political corruption that continues to curse America today! Case in point: “American Experience, “LBJ: Beautiful Texas/My Fellow Americans. A profile of Lyndon B. Johnson.” This recently aired on KSYS Channel 8.1 Aug. 15 and 16, respectively.

      Consider the following the itemized links below:

      Barr McClellan’s 2003 book: “Blood, Money, and Power: How LBJ Killed JFK”. Also posted at YouTube.

      J. Evett Haley’s 1964 book: “A Texan Looks At Lyndon: A Study In Illegitimate Power.” “How Persecution of American Christians Really Began in The US!” via the Constitution Party of Oregon (www.constitutionpartyoregon.net) posted under “Liberty In The News.”

      Trump to Pastors: ‘Christians Have Been Silenced Like a Child” via Pat Robertson’s 700 club confronts the 1954 Johnson Amendment which remains blatant censorship.

      “Lyndon Johnson Murdered John F. Kennedy” at YouTube. The oppressive 1968 Gun Control Act LBJ signed into federal legislation and its Nazi/ racist roots long since exposed by JPFO, Inc. at http://www.jpfo.org.

      Finally, the Vietnam War (1961-1975). How LBJ and then Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara greatly escalated this “no win war” in Southeast Asia. And at a cost of 58,000 American lives. Lyndon B. Johnson likewise paved the way for Carter, Clinton, and Obama.And while Richard M. Nixon was no saint, he wasn’t even in the ballpark with Lyndon when it came to the above political atrocities, abuses, and crimes against the American people.

      James A. Farmer, Ashland
      Now a resident of Merrill, Oregon (Klamath County)

    2. avatar frank speak says:

      laws that don’t work are not laws at all…just annoying restrictions that can be circumvented by those determined to do so….better to get rid of most of them…

  5. avatar Evan says:

    And yet… The NSSF supports the bump stock ban. Why don’t you tell the organization you work for to take your own advice.

    1. avatar Manse Jolly says:

      NSSF called for a review shortly after Vegas, not sure that meant ‘supporting’ a ban at the time.

      Point me in the direction where you found your information.

      1. avatar Evan says:

        https://www.thefirearmblog.com/blog/2017/10/12/nssfsaami-call-atf-review-bump-fire-stocks/

        Why would they call for a review by the atf unless they disagreed with the policy? And when ATF then reclassified bump stocks as machine guns why wouldn’t they come out in disagreement if they didn’t agree with the decision?

  6. avatar Imayeti says:

    Shame of it is that he’s right.

  7. avatar Soylent Green says:

    “The convicted felon who murdered five at his workplace last week should never have had a gun.”

    If he’d been kept locked up, that wouldn’t be an issue we’d need to discuss. If I had a dollar for every multiple prior felon continuing to run afoul of the law…
    Dear justice system…the citizenry are tired of being quality control and you being held unaccountable for failure.

  8. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Time repeal every gun law out there snd start all over. Just make sure this next batch can be enforced. And. Can not make a law abiding citizen. Into criminsl. Sounds easy enough. Lets see the locals screw this up. Like everything else a politician touches.

  9. avatar Victoriaillinois says:

    We should go back to the gun laws of 1800….. No one was shooting up schools. No one was shooting up music concerts & operas and churches and shopping areas, aka general stores. One shooting in a theater during the Civil War. I’d venture to say most people had guns. It’s what’s in the head, not hand that kills.

  10. avatar possum says:

    Some guys must slip through the NICS checks o knowr how NICS works. At one time possum tried to purchase a firegum and was immediately denied.Thats after waiting ten years and having my conviction expunged. The answer I got was the State cleared but the Federal did not?. I g0t that all taken care of now but I’m still wondering how NICS caught me so fast but others not?

    1. avatar Chris T in KY says:

      There was a time in this country when everyone from 5 to 95 was trained to use a gun. Back then you shot a thief. And it was just fine. Now we are “civilized” and our crime problems are solved???

  11. avatar Jim Bullock says:

    We need a succinct summary of the failures of the stuff in place, across all the tragedies and disasters. Something like this (the mass shooting numbers are wrong):

    “57 Mass shootings in the last 3-ish years: 48 in gun-free zones, 7 straw purchases, 12 didn’t pass background checks, 14 shouldn’t have.

    We could have stopped half of these with stuff we’re already doing, if only we’d done it. Meanwhile, denying more citizens guns in New Jersey (New York, Connecticut, Massachussets, California), or confiscating guns from people who have no flags doesn’t seem very on point.

    ~14 million CCW in the US, none perpetrate a mass shooting in the last decade.

    >300 million legal citizens’ arms in the us; if they were the problem, we’d all be dead.

    Incident research on mass shootings says they’re stopped when someone stops them; responder policies have changed to do that. And about 1/2 of the 57 above were stopped when an armed citizen showed up, before the uniformed responders.

    Why are we wasting our time restricting & confiscating the guns of peaceful, responsible people?”

    If only there were a civil rights advocacy organization or two representing the interests of citizens who use guns, or just citizens who want to stay alive.

  12. avatar uncommon_sense says:

    The convicted felon who murdered five at his workplace last week should never have had a gun. We need to know why that happened so it can be fixed so it never happens again.

    A violent criminal who is intent on maiming/killing people will ALWAYS be able to acquire firearms, knives, vehicles, poisons, and matches/gasoline to carry out their evil desires.

    We already have the laws we need to stop the criminal misuse of guns. Drafting new laws, especially since nearly all proposals affect only the law-abiding …

    Laws do not, I repeat, do NOT stop criminals from doing anything. At best laws are the framework within which we seek out and incarcerate criminals AFTER they have attacked someone. And the author even states as much (that laws primarily only affect law-abiding people) and therefore contradicts himself.

    We need political leaders who will assume responsibility for …

    Bwa, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Political leaders (gasp, still catching my breath after laughing so hard) by their very nature NEVER assume responsibility for anything that goes wrong.

    Pandering to politicians to “enforce the laws already on the books” strongly implies that their framework of firearms laws is legitimate. Well, their framework is almost entirely illegitimate. Instead, we should be taking new shooters to the range (which expands our base) and demanding that our legislatures leave our right to keep and bear arms alone.

  13. avatar Todd says:

    If he was so dangerous that he could not be allowed to have a deadly weapon, why was he running around loose and unsupervised?

    1. avatar That One Guy says:

      “if you can’t be trusted with a weapon, you can’t be trusted in society.”

  14. avatar Jbw says:

    Earlier this year a convicted felon was arrested for the 13th time in Chicago with a gun. 13 times. A couple of years ago a woman was arrested for straw buying about a half dozen guns for a gang member, no charges. A convicted felon with 4 previous gun arrests was released on bond, he was arrested within two weeks after killing someone with a gun.

    Crook county doesn’t enforce the laws at all.

  15. It’s not about new gun laws. It’s about repealing the ones we have.

  16. avatar thunder says:

    Illinois state police FAILED by giving him a foid card.
    ATF FAILED by passing his 4473 from for purchase of handgun.
    Illinois state police FAILED by not taking away his gun when it was discovered that he couldn’t own one.

    And we think we need more laws?
    Three times this should have been stopped.

  17. avatar UpInArms says:

    ” no one acted to recover the firearm they knew he had. One report noted that Illinois State Police lacks the manpower and relies on an “honor system.” ”

    Right. An honor system for felons. Typical liberal logic.

  18. avatar GS650G says:

    Just like other situations theses don’t work. Only the law abiding are affected. This is what angers people of the gun.

  19. avatar Nanashi says:

    No, it’s about implementing the ONE we have, the supreme law: Shall not be infringed.

    1. avatar John in Ohio says:

      +1,000,000,000

      I support zero arms control laws except shall not be infringed. I stopped doing the whole “law abiding” shtick. Given enough time, most of us won’t be considered “law abiding.” That infringement filter keeps growing. Frankly, I no longer care if someone is considered law abiding. All I care about is if they are using their firearm in a moral way or if they are using it immorally against another. If they aren’t using arms to rob, threaten, rape, murder, or otherwise violate the rights of another then it’s really none of my business.

  20. avatar Rick O’Shae says:

    The entire force of the Illinois State Police are more worried about the license plate light on my commercial vehicle than convicted felons with illegal guns.

  21. avatar Zed says:

    No man power to enforce existing law? I guess that registration business was just gun control theater. Do we need more of the same?

  22. avatar Curtis in IL says:

    “…the murderer took a gun he should have never owned, and the State Police knew he possessed, into his workplace.”

    I’m calling BS on this. The State Police would have no idea if he had one gun, or forty, or none.

    There would have been an NICS check before he bought the pistol but no confirmation that he actually bought one other than the record kept by the FFL, nor any indication if he bought one and later sold it.

    If the State Police revoked my FOID and came to my house to confiscate, they would have no clue what to look for.

  23. avatar todd says:

    “One report noted that Illinois State Police lacks the manpower and relies on an “honor system.””

    Absolutely priceless. We are going to rely on criminal’s honor. There is the whole left vs. right argument in a nutshell.

  24. avatar Tony lucido says:

    If you commit a crime using a gun you go right in the army and get shipped right overseas that would stop a lot of crime .

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