The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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April 3, 2013

Your View: It makes no sense to oppose gun background checks

— Opposing universal background checks for gun sales is just like saying, "You should lock your doors and windows to keep out unwanted intruders; but you need to leave some of the doors and windows open." It doesn't make sense.

OK. But what about this: Banning assault weapons is just like saying, "You have a right to defend yourself; but you can't have the weapons you need to do it."

When you recognize that opposing universal background checks doesn't make sense, do you also have to grant that banning assault weapons doesn't make sense either?

Answer: No.

Here are some differences:

1. Universal background checks are not based on what anybody happens to think; instead, they're based on documented information. That's different from allowing everybody to decide for themselves what they need for self-defense.

2. There's no straightforward alternative to the problem universal background checks solves, except taking away everyone's guns--and nobody's seeking that. But there's an existing, straightforward alternative to everyone's having discretion to provide whatever self-protection they want for themselves. It's the law enforcement system, which includes armed policing.

3. The rationale for universal background checks doesn't lead to an absurdity. But claiming a need for assault weapons for self-defense does -- namely, that persons can also have machine guns, grenades, bazookas, IEDs, and tanks while teachers have AR-15s handy.

4. Universal background checks are a mild imposition on people to solve a larger, deeper problem. But assault weapons are a drastic, dangerous measure compared with any usefulness they might have.

We need both universal background checks and a ban on assault weapons.


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