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Originally published Friday, April 13, 2018 at 06:00a.m.
I am not a gun control advocate. I am an advocate of responsible firearm ownership.
Our current method for conducting background checks are just that: checks, not investigations.
Something different has to happen to keep firearms out of the hands of people who should not possess them. My proposal will add to the cost and time of a background check.
Here is my suggestion to better assess a person’s ability to be a responsible firearm owner:
- Continue background checks.
- Require prospective buyers to provide name, address and phone number of three character references (not family members).
- Investigators contact one or more of the references to gain insight into applicants’ demeanor, mental health, propensity for domestic violence, and related questions.
If the applicant knows up front his or her references will be questioned, I believe a sizeable number of people with behavior or mental health problems in their past will be discouraged from purchasing a firearm from Federal Firearm Licensed dealers.
Funding for investigators would come from Department of Justice federal grants to local police and county sheriffs’ departments.
Grant administrators can be anyone within municipal or county government. Investigators hired for this program need not be police officers. Other educational and experience criteria should be used to hire these investigators.
Each grant should fund:
- Salaries for full and part-time investigators.
- Hand-held radios on the agencies communication system and cellphones.
- Personal defense weapons such as service pistol, stun gun, pepper spray.
- Administrative supplies.
- Laptop computer with “Hot Spot” internet connector.
- Office space.
There is another aspect to my suggestion: adjudication. Firearm possession is a constitutional right. Anyone who is denied their right to purchase (possess) a firearm must have their grievance adjudicated before a court of law.