School Safety Series Part 2: Tragedy sparks gun debate

By: Grant Goetcheus
Twitter: @goetcheusg

On Valentine’s Day Nikolas Cruz, 19, opened fire on Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Flordia and created the third deadliest school shooting. He used his own AR-15-a gun that he legally purchased.

The event has sparked a national debate about gun laws including who can buy guns and how old can someone be to buy a gun. 

In the current federal system of gun laws there is a loophole. This is referred to as the gun show loophole. That allows a person to purchase a gun through an unlicensed dealer without a background check.  There are no regulations on the sales of unlicensed dealers.  Philip W. Lucas, Ph.D. Associate Professor of Criminal Justice and Chair of the Department of Justice Sciences at the University of Findlay says there is a difference between licensed and unlicensed purchases.

“There are no regulations on casual’s sales, so you can buy from a friend. However, from a licensed dealer you must fill out a federal firearms license form and then in a couple of days when the paper work clears you are able to purchase the gun,” explained Lucas.

The forms applicants fill out include the background check runs the name through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). This checks to see if the person wanting the purchase a gun has a criminal record or it otherwise unable to purchase a gun. The NICS is controlled by the FBI and receives the information from several state and local level departments.

The federal government is the leader in the gun laws. Congress is the one that states what guns are legal or not and it also determines what the safety laws are put into place. The states are given the power of concealed carry or open carry. Then each state set to rules to get the permit. Some require live training to accompany the permit while others do not.

In Ohio, anyone 18 and over can buy a firearm but the buyer must be over 21 to buy a hand gun.           

According to The Trace, a nonprofit newsroom dedicated to providing information on America’s gun violence crisis, applicants in Texas are required to demonstrate their shooting proficiency by firing a series of shots from varying distances. In practice, the instructors who administer the training can let applicants keep firing until they record a passing score. But, by subscribing to a live-fire requirement, Texas is aligning itself with a belief about gun safety: Concealed carriers who aren’t familiar with how to use their weapon pose a danger to themselves and the public.

Ohio requires applicants undergo live fire training when issued a permit. Residents of Ohio that pass the training and are permitted to carry a gun are limited to its location. Including public and private universities or other institutions of higher learning. The Ohio law gives the university or institution the power to regulate their own gun policy. At the University of Findlay it is illegal to carry a firearm on campus and that is communicated by signs posted around campus.

The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida sparked more debate over gun control. President Donald Trump has made his voice heard in the debate. Trump tweeted calling for a raising of the minimum age of the sale of guns to become 21 for all guns and the end of the sale of bump stocks.

Under current federal law the minimum age to buy a handgun is 21 and the minimum age to buy a long gun is 18. These laws allowed for Cruz to buy his AR-15 and the several other guns that he owned at the age of 19.

Right now it is unclear whether or not the latest mass shooting will have an impact in creating change in the current gun laws. 

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