Well, that knocks out all of our staff, but normal folks probably consider that easy.
And, of course, like any rules ever written, they aren't always followed. Jacob adds: "A Texas woman with a history of mental illness was allowed to buy the gun she used to kill herself. The background check system, as it exists, allowed a woman who was diagnosed with schizophrenia and manic depression to buy a shotgun. This was after she was removed from another Walmart for assault."
Look, if you're gonna start banning every person who's gotten into a fistfight at Walmart, we're gonna be here awhile.
That sounds like a total failure of the entire background check system to us. How do background checks even work? "During a background check," Jacob says, "a clerk will usually call the NICS [National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which apparently doesn't understand how acronyms work] hotline with a name. It provides us with one of three answers: Proceed, Denied, or Delayed. 'Delayed' means there is no answer at this time, but by law, the retailer can decide whether to sell the gun or not after three days. It's worth noting that [the Charleston shooter] was on 'Delayed' status and was allowed to purchase a gun after the three-day waiting period. That background check eventually came back 'Denied.'"
Sean Rayford/Getty Images
So background checks aren't perfect, rules get ignored, and both can be bypassed entirely by buying from a private owner instead of a store. In short: There's nothing stopping a violent lunatic from just skipping right to Craigslist, as anyone who's ever used the site for anything has already discovered.
"If you bought a gun from me, personally, that'd be all you needed to do to own a gun, completely legally. Private sale is still the absolute BIGGEST loophole to the background check system. ... A private citizen isn't liable for crimes committed as a result of the buyer misrepresenting themselves."
Private sales are mostly fine. They're usually transactions between friends and relatives. Nobody wants to outlaw, say, a father passing his old rifle down to his son. But then you think about the militia types, the paranoid conspiracy theorists, and the cat murderers -- really, anybody with a rat-tail -- all of whom shouldn't be trusted with so much as a Super Soaker. So how do we keep guns away from crazies without banning private sales? Good question; here's what the experts say:
Jerome still specializes in making weapons for self-defense. Jacob has quit his job selling guns and now works as a marketing guy, where there is far less paperwork. He would not recommend employment at Walmart. Cezary Jan Strusiewicz is a Cracked columnist, interviewer, and editor. Contact him at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter.
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