Seven minutes

In the current firearms political climate following the Orlando shootings — not just at Pulse, but also of Christina Grimmie — it seems almost expected that someone would try to replay Mark Kelly’s stunt from 2013. In this instance, it was Helen Ubiñas of the Philadelphia Enquirer:

Seven minutes. From the moment I handed the salesperson my driver’s license to the moment I passed my background check.

Yes, the NICS background check is actually quite… instant. It’s in the name.

It likely will take more time than that during the forthcoming round of vigils to respectfully read the names of the more than 100 people who were killed or injured.

It’s obscene.


Actually it’s not. That’s the amount of time it would take to clear an instant background check for any firearm.

If you have a squeaky clean record, there’s no reason to not sail quickly through the background check process. Not everyone does. Mark Kelly sailed through the process quickly as well simply because he’s a retired commissioned officer from the United States Navy with a clean record. I’ve sailed through the NICS background check the… seven times, I think, I’ve been through it. My parents have sailed through it. Friends of mine have sailed through it. What exactly is the concern?

Oh yes, that’s right. We’re talking about an “assault rifle”. The famous AR-15 platform. In your instance it was the Smith & Wesson M&P-15. And the fact you were able to sail through the background check process means it’s “too easy” to buy a firearm. Am I right? Or at least too easy to buy an AR-15?

Bear in mind that there are over 2 million of them in private hands. Two Million. The number of people killed or injured each year by rifles is insignificant. The number of AR-15 rifles used in any shooting, mass or otherwise, is also insignificant. According to Mayors Against Illegal Guns, between 2009 and 2013, there were only three mass homicides known to involve the AR-15, plus two more with an “assault rifle”. The other mass homicides were committed with pistols of various calibers and shotguns.

And yet you focus on the AR-15.

Functionally the AR-15 is no different from any other rifle that chambers the same caliber. The only difference is the body style, which is lightweight and modular, both of which make the rifle popular.

And unless you have a shady background, you should be able to walk into a gun seller and be able to walk out with any rifle, pistol, or shotgun of your choice and not be significantly delayed by the “instant” background check. Seriously there is nothing wrong with that idea.

There seems to be this point of view wherein a person being able to pass a background check means it’s too easy to get a firearm. You’ve demonstrated that with your article, and I’ve run into that mentality before. It’s as if the background check process should be able to read minds and predict the future.

Instead of exercising a political stunt that’ll generate a lot of clicks, why did you not instead just keep the firearm and learn how to use it? Take it to a range that allows centerfire rifles (not all do) and shoot a few magazines through it instead of almost immediately surrendering it to the police.

You’ve lost a golden opportunity here to actually learn about the rifle you are trying to demonize. But you never wanted to learn about the rifle, likely because you’re afraid you might no longer want to denigrate it. After all, it’s been said and demonstrated that the fastest way to turn someone from anti-gun to pro-gun is to take them to a gun range.

Out of two million AR-15 rifles that passed into private hands, the number that have actually been used in mass shootings is likely barely into the double-digits. More kids die from swimming pools than the total number of people killed by rifles in any given year, including the AR-15.

And somehow the AR-15 is some super special killer?

It sounds more like you have no idea what you’re talking about and was looking for a sensationalist hit piece. And you write and publish this sensationalist article before the bodies are even in the ground without, to borrow your own words, “even a moment to at least consider how gross all of this felt as relatives of the dead were still being notified.”

If it felt “gross”, why did you do it? Because you saw an opportunity to write an article that generates a lot of clicks. Congratulations.

And if you think that private sales mean that anyone can still get a rifle, I think you forget the fact that there is also a seller involved. The seller can, at any time before it’s completed, kill the sale. That actually happened here in Kansas City. A person who shot up random cars on I-470 near where I used to work attempted to acquire a firearm through a private sale that the seller aborted.

Interesting concept, don’t you think? Makes me wonder how many times that happens.

At the same time, sellers at gun shops will also abort sales if they feel something’s up. I’ve personally witnessed this. At a gun shop I frequent, a person walked in with the intent of buying a pistol. He was not exercising any kind of discipline over his movements and actions, though, and he was escorted out of the shop.

And a shop owner in Ohio acting on his wits intervened in preventing a potential shooting at Ohio University.