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Is gun control the answer?

Enforcing current laws may be enough

January 14, 2013
By Michael Tidemann - Staff Writer , Estherville Daily News

One lawmaker, Sen. Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, is calling for universal background checks and an assault weapons ban a month after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Ct.

Connie Alvarez, Sr., an Estherville gun dealer with a career in law enforcement, is in a position to see both sides of the issue.

Alvarez explained that under current federal law a person is legally entitled to buy a gun and give it as a present without the recipient having a background check. That contrasts with gun dealers who are required to run a background check on every person who buys a gun - even at a gun show. Alvarez said a private citizen, though, could rent a booth at a gun show and sell a gun without requiring that same background check.

That - and more - could all change if lawmakers like Schumer have their way.

Another issue that many gun owners fear is mandatory gun registration.

"They want to take away a private citizen's right to own a gun," Alvarez said Monday of lawmakers calling for gun registration. "Right now they don't have that ability because they don't know if you own a gun or not."

Another target of gun-control advocates is limiting magazine capacities, something Alvarez sees as an emotional reaction.

"The country is running on emotion," said Alvarez. "They want to do something. Hi-capacity magazines aren't going to make a difference. A law isn't going to make a difference."

Alvarez said posting gun bans on public buildings won't work either. Instead, he said the problem lies with a broken mental-health system and violence-ridden media.

"We haven't got broken gun laws. We have broken people. If gun laws worked, Chicago would be the safest city in the country," Alvarez said, speaking of the soaring crime rate in Chicago which has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the country. Alvarez noted similar situations for both Washington, D.C. and Mexico.

Alvarez said he believed Vice President Biden, who is heading up President Obama's call for gun-control legislation, is aiming for gun registration.

"I think that's the first thing that Vice President Biden wants," said Alvarez, adding that right now an ATF (Alcohol, Tax and Firearms) agent could come into his shop and demand the lineage of a gun.

Alvarez also noted that Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin on several occasions voted to outlaw semiautomatic shotguns, a favorite of Iowa goose hunters.

He said the answer isn't in adding more gun laws, but to enforce those already in effect.

"If you would prosecute gun laws, the ones that are on the books, then we'd have an impact on crime," Alvarez said. Alvarez, who worked for 21 years in Los Angeles County, Calif., in the fire, sheriff's and search and rescue department, said whenever he took a gun away from someone that gun was illegal.

"We don't have broken gun laws. We have broken people," Alvarez said. "Hollywood is the biggest offender," he added, noting gun violence in films starring actors who advocate gun control.

And Alvarez noted a lot of those gun-control efforts are backfiring. One case in point was a newspaper that published a list of persons with concealed weapon permits. "All that did was give burglars a list of what homes to stay away from," Alvarez said.

"In every state that passed a personal carry law, crime went down," Alvarez said. "He (Biden) had a hand in writing the original assault weapons ban."

Alvarez also said President Obama has his own gun-control agenda.

"He's made the comment that he's going to bypass Congress," Alvarez said.



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