NewsPub Notes

Judge Tate: Gun License Database Has ‘Huge Gaps’

Judge Susan Tate issued the following statement the day after the most recent school shootings in Oregon, and she stressed that her statement is a personal opinion only, not that of any other body or entity.

“Following yesterday’s shootings I feel compelled to highlight the fact that, contrary to popular belief, our federal and state background check databases are full of holes. For the past several years, as Probate Judge of Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, Chair of the Weapons Carry License Committee for the Council of Probate Court Judges of Georgia, and the FBI/NICS Point of Contact for the State of Georgia, I have been delving more deeply into concerns involving the nation’s background check system. Although people assume that they can trust our background check system, the truth is that there are huge gaps of information missing from our national and state databases which are accessed when someone attempts to buy a weapon or to obtain a weapons carry license. Even though complete details are unknown at this time, Oregon’s experience suggests that our first priority should be fixing the system we have. There is significant under-reporting of persons who are prohibited from possessing a firearm or who are ineligible for a gun permit under federal or state law. These gaps include people who have been adjudicated to be suffering from mental illness or other mental incapacity to the extent that court intervention has been required, as well as many who have been hospitalized in a mental facility within the last five years (a common state prohibitor) or who have been prohibited from possessing a firearm by a court as a condition of bond, probation or other court order.  

“Now is the time to strengthen our existing background check system created under President Reagan after the attempt on his life. This system is the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, known as the NICS Index, and is maintained by the FBI.  The vast majority of state reporting statutes have not kept pace with the Brady Act or with changing state laws regarding who can be licensed to carry a firearm. Because of this, our databases are seriously deficient. The best way to address this problem is for Congress to pass federal legislation requiring state agencies, courts and other entities as appropriate to report to FBI/NICS for entry into the NICS Index any and all persons who are prohibited under either state or federal law from possessing a firearm or obtaining a gun permit, and further, to allow each state agency which houses that state’s criminal history records to retain fingerprint records. This may be just one aspect of a larger problem, but it is critical to keeping guns out of the hands of those who are already prohibited from having them.”

Make Guns as Difficult as Abortions

This has been making the rounds on Facebook, generally attributed to the friend of a friend.

“Or, hey, how about we treat every young man who wants to buy a gun like every woman who wants to get an abortion—mandatory 48-hour waiting period, parental permission, a note from his doctor proving he understands what he’s about to do, a video he has to watch about the effects of gun violence, an ultrasound wand up the ass (just because).

“Let’s close down all but one gun shop in every state and make him travel hundreds of miles, take time off work and stay overnight in a strange town to get a gun. Make him walk through a gauntlet of people holding photos of loved ones who were shot to death, people who call him a murderer and beg him not to buy a gun.

“It makes more sense to do this with young men and guns than with women and health care, right? I mean, no woman getting an abortion has killed a room full of people in seconds, right?”