Stopping gun violence is complicated.
Requiring routine background checks before all gun purchases is not.
A check to see if a person can legally purchase a gun is quick and simple. Licensed gun sellers in Wisconsin routinely and responsibly screen buyers to stop more than 1,000 criminals annually from buying weapons.
Yet a glaring loophole allows many gun sellers at gun shows and online to skip this sensible safeguard.
That’s wrong and can’t be justified. Yet it continues — sometimes with deadly consequences — because too many politicians lack the courage to do the right thing.
The National Rifle Association fights consistent gun screenings. Yet the vast majority of the public — as well as most NRA members — favor universal background checks for all gun purchases.
It’s a disturbing and deadly disconnect.
In the fatal shooting of three women at a Brookfield spa in 2012, for example, the shooter couldn’t legally purchase a gun because of a lengthy restraining order his wife had secured against him.
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Nonetheless, Radcliffe Haughton was able to buy a gun online from a seller who didn’t have to check his background. He purchased a .40-caliber semiautomatic pistol the day before he shot and killed his wife and two other women at the spa.
The Republican-run House of Representatives recently approved, with bipartisan support, $20 million in grants for states to improve background check compliance. This is progress.
Yet Republicans, and some Democrats, in the House and Senate refuse to close the gun-show and online loophole. It’s a national disgrace.
Barring federal action, Wisconsin should act on its own. That’s not ideal, given the ease of buying guns online from anywhere across the country. But state action would help apply more pressure for a national solution.
Gun violence continues to haunt Wisconsin and all of America. About 75 shootings have occurred at schools in the United States in the 18 months since 20 children and several adults were gunned down in a grade school in Connecticut. The latest school shooting came last week in Oregon.
Many more senseless murders involving firearms occur outside of schools. In fact, children are almost 100 times more likely to be murdered outside of school than inside, according to The Washington Post.
Universal background checks won’t prevent every deadly attack. But they will improve safety, sparing Wisconsin and the nation some of the needless tragedy that’s far too pervasive now.