We really do need to look at our gun laws

According to a report released by three Democratic U.S. Senators earlier this week, a significant number of weapons used by Mexican drug gangs come from within our country.

Coastal Point

The Mexican government reportedly sent 29,284 firearms to the U.S. Department of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for tracing purposes, according to a story on CNN.com. Of that figure, more than 70 percent originated in the United States.

Now, to be fair, these numbers may be a bit skewed. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, one of the senators who released the report, acknowledged that the Mexican government probably sent over weapons that they suspected originated in the United States. But, really, what if the real number is more like 50 percent? Or 30 percent? Or 10 percent?

If we just look at 70 percent of the weapons they submitted as coming from the United States, that’s about 20,000 deadly weapons originating in the U.S. Even if that’s out of a million total weapons seized, that’s a ridiculous amount. Actually, it’s a frightening amount.

Look, I’m a big believer that people have the right to own weapons in this country. Though I’m not a hunter myself, I have many friends who enjoy it thoroughly, and I see no reason they shouldn’t be permitted to have firearms if they show they can act responsibly with them. Now, I don’t completely understand why anybody in this country would need a banana clip on their semi-automatic rifle or a handgun that holds enough rounds to wreak havoc at a public event, but maybe that’s just me.

The fact of the matter is that we have a lot of guns in this country that aren’t being monitored. A system is supposed to be in place that tracks these things, that prevents obviously-twisted people like Jared Laughner from procuring such weapons, that keeps dangerous weapons from slipping off into foreign countries.

The system is broke.

Just this week the Delaware Police Chiefs Council (DPCC) called on the Delaware General Assembly to act on a senate bill that would close the “gun-show loophole.” The chiefs argue that this gap allows criminals and other dangerous individuals to purchase guns at gunshows without having a background check. The chiefs said that under Delaware law, people don’t need to have a criminal background check to purchase a firearm at these shows unless the seller is a licensed dealer.

So, let me get this straight. An unlicensed gun dealer is currently allowed to sell guns to anybody who walks up at a gun show with a handful of cash, but legitimate dealers have to put people through background checks?

Have I mentioned that our system is broken?

“Requiring background checks for gun sales at gun shows would have no impact on the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding gun owners,” said Wilmington Chief of Police Michael Szczerba. “These are the same background checks that are performed by licensed gun dealers every day. Background checks take only a few minutes to complete — minutes that could save a life.”

According to statistics provided by the ATF, approximately 30 percent of illegally-trafficked guns are connected to gun shows. The DPCC stated that Al-Queda recently released a video encouraging their followers to exploit the loophole in the law and purchase firearms at gun shows.

This is absurd.

You don’t think any of these guns are going into crime-riddled neighborhoods? Or kids? Or Mexican drug cartels?

So, we ship Mexico guns, cigarettes and booze, and they send us really good food, inexpensive laborers and Salma Hayek? It sounds like maybe we are getting the better end of this trade market, after all.

There is a lot to love about our country. We enjoy freedoms that we largely take for granted. We have a spirit of perseverence and bravery that continues to shine in our armed forces today. And we have popcorn that is ready to eat after only a few minutes in a microwave.

But we also have our warts. It’s not un-American to point out what problems we have. It’s un-American to not stand up and try to create change when change is what’s needed.

And this needs to change.