Opinion

Monongalia shootings renew gun debate

An editorial from The Dominion Post 

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — “We have a perfect storm coming.”

That’s how the FBI manager at the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), in Bridgeport, recently described the volume of gun sales in recent years.

We don’t know the status of the firearm that was used in Monday ’s mass shootings.

But we do know that to not broach a new debate about gun sales and other related issues surrounding our nation’s gun culture would be irresponsible.

The FBI manager’s remark was not in reference to the system of background checks that began in 1998.

She was referring to the thousands of gun sales that slip through the background check system. More than 186,000 guns sales got green lighted in 2013 without knowledge of their buyers’ criminal and background histories.

The reason these gun sales beat checks is if three business days pass without a federal response, buyers get their guns, whether the check was completed or not.

We admit, this is onl  about 2 percent of some 9.3 million guns sales yearly by licensed retailers.

However, it doesn’t include the millions of other firearm sales annually at gun shows, online and through private sales that require no background checks.

This is no perfect storm, an event that requires a rare combination of circumstances that aggravate a situation drastically.

In a nation where there are nine guns for every 10 people and some four people are killed with a firearm every hour what happened here Monday is almost commonplace.

No, mass shootings are not commonplace, yet. They only happen every few weeks; still, in our culture, these events are predictable.

This is an opportunity to not just debate mass shootings or the nearly 100 incidents of gun violence daily. It’s a chance for our lawmakers to do something about it.

Only minutes before law enforcement discovered the body of the suspect in Monday’s rampage, Rep. David McKinley emailed a statement on the shootings in Monongalia County.

He was quick to express his shock at the horrific violence in our county and to thank law enforcement for putting their lives at risk.

Yet, we look at his record on gun legislation, and those of other members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation, with the exception of outgoing Sen. Jay Rockefeller, and they virtually always vote against gun restrictions.

To our delegation’s credit, four of the five did vote in May for boosting NICS’s funding by $20 million. Sen.-elect Shelley Moore Capito did not vote.

And Sen. Joe Manchin co-sponsored a measure in 2013 to curb firearm sales at gun shows and online.

However, unless lawmakers adopt an overall, common sense approach to gun legislation, the forecast is grim.

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