CHICAGO (jGLi) – For more than three years that I had been a crime reporter for Manila Bulletin in the Philippines, carrying a gun would have been an option. After all, the police in my beat would be reluctant to ask me if I had a permit to carry.
Although, I would notice that my colleagues in the beat would be packing openly their guns presumably to protect themselves from the criminal suspects they would interview, I had never been one to follow suit. Since the suspects were already disarmed, I saw no point in protecting myself from them anymore. On the contrary, the suspects could even grab the gun from me.
Even when a taxi driver surrendered to me a .38 caliber revolver left behind in his taxi, I did not have second thoughts of keeping the gun for myself.
Instead, I asked Lieutenant (Cesar Dalanon) of the Northern Police District to return the gun to the owner. It turned out Lieutenant Dalanon sold the gun to someone else when a businessman from Baguio city hesitated in getting back the gun for fear that it could have been used in some criminal activity. In hindsight, the businessman could have escaped any blame if only he reported to the police the theft of his gun during a robbery in his home.
Dalanon did not even treat me to a cup of coffee after selling the gun, which could have fetched a few thousands of pesos in the black market.
Perhaps, if the new system in California requiring new handguns to be imprinted with a microstamp on each bullet so that it can be traced back to the gun that fired it were in place in the Philippines, it would have been easier to find out who owned the gun used in killing my former colleague Nixon Kua in case the killers would conceal the identity of the gun owner.
But in the case of James E. Holmes, the suspected spree killer inside a movie house in Aurora, Colorado last Friday (July 20), he could have been prevented from buying a gun if background check would allow gun sellers access to the medical records of the gun buyer.
When police arrested Mr. Holmes outside the theater minutes after the shooting, still wearing the body armor, he had four guns with him, and prescription tablets of Vicodin, a pain killer in his possession that could raise a red flag.
Under current U.S. laws, a gun buyer fails the background check if he is involuntarily declared by the court to have mental instability. If he volunteered to be treated for mental instability, this is not considered in the background check. Matthew Beck had a history of depression, suicide attempts and had been hospitalized voluntarily but was allowed to buy a gun because the law of involuntary hospitalization did not apply to him. Beck later killed four of his bosses then himself at offices at the Connecticut lottery in 1998.
If gun-control advocate, Rep. Mike Quigley (D-5th-IL) could insert in his proposal for a broader background check to include voluntary hospital commitment as a factor to deny application to gun buyer as well as restrict the purchase of hundreds of rounds of ammunition online as did Holmes, this could help avert mayhem in the future. He can throw in a ban on purchase of assault weapons like the Bushmaster AR15 that Holmes used in killing 12 people and injuring 58 others, including Filipino American Ryan Lumba.
Quigley, the congressman in my Chicago district, said in the hours following the horrific tragedy in Colorado, six people were shot inside of fifteen minutes in Chicago, Illinois while seven victims were killed the following weekend.
He said “as we paused to reflect and send our prayers to the families grieving an unimaginable loss, … it is now time to talk about commonsense gun control despite the NRA (the powerful lobby group, National Rifle Association), who say that doing so would be exploiting the situation.”
The two-term congressman said, “If we can’t talk about guns following a tragedy, we wouldn’t have been able to talk after Tucson or Fort Hood or Virginia Tech or sadly, any weekend in Chicago.
“We have to talk about how to keep dangerous weapons out of dangerous hands. We have to talk about the gun show loophole. We have talk about the recent Supreme Court ruling, which determined the Second Amendment is not an unlimited right. We have to acknowledge that a high-capacity magazine is not necessary to defend one’s home or used to hunt anything but people. We can’t let the extremists silence the debate, or there will be no end to senseless shootings.”
INDIANA GUN SHOW KILLING CHICAGO STUDENTS
The congressman, who inherited the district once occupied by former White House Chief of Staff and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel, has been pushing for the passage of Gun Show Loophole, a gap in federal law that allows private gun dealers to sell weapons to anyone – including terrorists, felons, and the mentally disabled – without performing background checks.
In pushing for the regulation of selling guns at gun shows, Quigley cited involvement of 500 Chicago Public School students in the past two years that resulted in the death of 34 caused by gun violence. The Chicago police traced the guns in the killing of the students from guns purchased at nearby Indiana Gun Show, where anybody buys a firearm without background check.
“The gun show undermines law enforcement in Illinois and contributes to the epidemic of illegal guns that is decimating our city,” according to Quigley, a member of the House Judiciary and Oversight and Government Reform committees.
He has long co-sponsored H.R.591 Gun Show Loophole Closing Act of 2011 introduced by Rep. Carolyn McCarthy [NY-4], whose husband was killed by a mass murderer. The bill has been languishing in the subcommittee of the Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
Quigley had introduced the Border Security Enhancement Act and the Trafficking Reduction and Criminal Enforcement (TRACE) Act, both of which would provide the ATF (Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearm) with the resources it needs to effectively combat illegal gun flow in America. (firstname.lastname@example.org)