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Video of Easy US Gun Purchase Adds to Gun Control Debate

  • Peter Fedynsky

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg shows an undercover video that he says shows undercover investigators working for New York City were not required to pass a background check at a Phoenix, Arizona, gun show, January 31, 2011

Last month’s shooting in Arizona of a local member of Congress and the killing of six people has again focused attention on the issue of regulating the purchase of firearms. A recent undercover investigation in that state show that guns can be easily purchased by suspicious individuals.

Nonetheless, gun control opponents remain adamant that stricter control would infringe upon the constitutional right Americans have to keep and bear arms.

Gun shows are common across the United States. They are held regularly in every state, including Arizona, where a gunman shot and killed six people and seriously wounded a U.S. congresswoman and several other people in early January.

After that tragic day in Tucson, at the second of two gun shows in Arizona that month, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said a hidden camera captured an illegal transaction for a nine millimeter Glock, the same weapon used in the assassination attempt.

The seller sold the gun, after a cursory glance at the buyer’s ID.

Mayor Bloomberg said it is too easy for criminals, drug addicts and mentally unstable people to buy guns in America. “You can still walk into a gun show and buy a nine millimeter in the time it would take to buy a hamburger and fries at McDonalds," he said.

Bloomberg said New York paid $100,000 to fund the gun show investigation. New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. “This is not a new problem. It has been a long-standing one. What is new, is the mayor’s initiative to document these loopholes, and with like-minded mayors to petition Congress to do something about it," he said.

But U.S. lawmakers refuse to pass stricter gun control legislation. In 2004, they allowed a ban on large gun magazines, like the one used in the Arizona shootings, to expire. Instead, a majority in Congress follow gun control opponents who believe private gun possession is a constitutional safeguard against tyrannical government.

Larry Pratt, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, said, “It reminds the government that there are limits to its power, which is the whole purpose of the Second Amendment.”

When asked about innocent shooting victims, Pratt said, “The bad things that happen with guns in the hands of private people is nothing compared to what happens when the government has a monopoly of firearms.”

Mayor Bloomberg and many other gun control advocates do not favor repeal of the Constitutional guaranty to bear arms. But the mayor contends that stricter regulation at gun shows is a small inconvenience needed to save innocent lives. Larry Pratt counters that any government regulation of firearms is a slippery slope that could end in tyranny.