March 2, 2013
Today, I am writing you not as your constituent, but as the President of the Nebraska Firearms Owners Association (NFOA), of which we are proud to have you as a member. I have been contacted by many NFOA members with concerns regarding your response to their gun control questions. I thought I should contact you and bring your attention to these concerns. I’ve looked at your four-point plan and
considered the concerns of our members and since you’re quite busy, I’ll try to briefly summarize our concerns on a point-by-point basis.
Point 1: “I support background checks at gun shows.”
Background checks are already required by law at gun shows for gun dealers with a Federal Firearm License (FFL), just as when firearms are purchased at the FFL’s gun shop. Private citizen-to-citizen sales, which are a minor fraction of overall firearm sales, are the only transfers that don’t require a background check.
Background checks don’t impede criminals. Most criminals obtain the guns they use through theft, straw purchasers, or through the same black market that moves other illicit goods such as drugs and stolen property. Criminals will not be affected by additional background checks on private sales, just as they are unaffected by current background checks on sales from FFLs.
Firearms purchased legitimately through private transfers are rarely used in violent crime. There are, however, numerous instances of persons in immediate need of a firearm for self-defense being unreasonably delayed by the current “instant” background check system. In some cases people have been seriously injured or killed while they were waiting for government approval to buy the gun that might have protected them.
Checking every person every time they purchase a firearm is redundant, wasteful, and unproductive. The current system is already an overreach by the federal government, and it has serious flaws. It is not uncommon for sales at FFLs to be delayed, or even halted, nationwide due to errors, system overloads, and technical problems. Adding private transactions into this unreliable system with its potential for abuse will cost taxpayers dollars that could be better spent on programs that actually reduce crime. Most importantly, if all firearms transfers require government permission to proceed, the government need only withhold that permission in order to halt all legal transfers. A right delayed is a right denied.
The current “Universal Background Check” proposals also represent a step toward federal registration of guns and gun owners, something that has been historically demonstrated to be of little use for stopping or tracking criminals, while placing law-abiding gun owners at risk and laying the foundations
for future confiscation.
Point 2: “I would support grant funds for police officers at schools.”
It is agreed that we need to provide for armed security at our schools, whether that is policeman as resource officers, or in the case of more rural communities, with limited police forces, through other trained and responsible individuals. Unfortunately the Gun Free School Zones Act as amended in 1997 makes several restrictions limiting the ability to utilize security personnel who are not police officers.
Therefore, we have restricted these security precautions to a very limited few, which realistically is not possible in all locations, especially in rural Nebraskan communities. We agree with and applaud your support of programs to provide the security that our schools need, and hope that you would also look at expanding the list of qualified individuals approved to provide this needed protection for our most
valuable asset, our children.
Point 3: “I support certain mental health issues being part of a background check.”
Mental health and the treatment of mental illness are also common elements of the recent tragedies our country has experienced. Many psychologists have stated that today, because of funding or legislative restrictions, treatments used in the past are bypassed in lieu of prescription drugs. This procedural change has caused a major increase in the use of prescription drugs to treat these mental illnesses. Many
of these medications have disclosed potential side effects of depression, suicidal thoughts, aggressiveness, and even violence. The recent mass murders, not just in our country, but in other parts of the world as well, have been perpetrated by individuals either taking prescription drugs treating mental illness or suffering withdrawal from them after having recently stopped taking their medications.
Additionally, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) prohibits the distribution of Protected Personal Information for non-medical use. Including mental health issues in background checks would be a direct violation of the HIPAA laws. Instead of focusing on the background check portion of the issue, it may be more productive to consider the mental illness treatment alternatives and work with mental health professionals to develop a plan that provides them the tools and treatment alternatives they need, while reaffirming their responsibility to report individuals who pose an imminent threat to public safety.
Point 4: “We should do more with the laws on the books and more vigorously pursue
Our membership agrees with you that the prosecutions for falsifying information on background checks must be addressed. By failing to prosecute these criminals for these minor infractions we are simply allowing them to obtain firearms through other means, like theft, which gives them the tools to commit crimes which we as a society cannot tolerate.
I hope I have conveyed the concerns that many of your constituents have had with the response they received from your office regarding their questions on gun control. I also hope that you understand that we do not wish to be placed in a position where we, firearm owners in Nebraska, would not be able to support your reelection in 2014, because you have been a valued leader have represented Nebraska well on many issues. However, I need to restate that the membership of the NFOA, along with our partner organizations throughout the country, have taken a no-compromise position on the proposals we have seen coming from Washington that aim to limit our rights, while having little to no effect on crime. Some of these proposals in Washington are being pitched to you as “common sense,” but I need to caution you that many of your constituents back here in Nebraska will consider your votes for so-called “common sense” laws to be votes for more gun control, and if you choose to vote for more gun control, your constituents will place you in the same group hostile to gun owners as President Obama, Vice President Biden, and Senator Feinstein.
Yours in Liberty,
President, Nebraska Firearms Owners Association