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Arizona Shooting Causes Renewed Call for Background Checks

Published Date: Jan. 12, 2011
by Timothy McClanahan

The tragic shooting of Congresswoman Giffords and 19 others in Tucson, AZ last week has everyone talking about the motivations of the shooter, and is also causing people to think again about tighter gun control laws. A look into the shooter's background, however, has people wondering why he was even in possession of guns in the first place.

In an ironic twist, Giffords herself is a noted proponent of gun ownership. Whether you are for gun ownership or not, common sense laws on gun ownership are something everyone should be able to agree on. Federal law prohibits gun ownership for felons and abusers of illegal drugs. So why was Jared Lee Loughner, the Tucson man who shot Giffords and others, in possession of guns? He was able to buy them legally because his history didn't fall within the parameters of the FBI's profile of who isn't allowed to buy firearms.

Loughner's history is mainly one of drug abuse, but no felony convictions. A traffic stop in September 2007 led to his being cited for possession of drug paraphernalia, but the charge was dismissed after he entered a diversion program. While his background wasn't enough to prevent him from buying guns, it certainly was enough for the U.S. Army to reject his enlistment.

The heartbreak for the people involved in this event is unimaginable, but the positive impact of this tragedy is likely to be an improved set of rules for the FBI's background check for purchasers of weapons. Only a tiny percentage of those people on the list of those not allowed to buy weapons are due to drug charges. A thorough review of what does, or does not, disqualify someone from purchasing firearms is undoubtedly going to be forthcoming, and will likely result in fewer deaths.

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