Not so good, not so bad

California sets an example with its firearms database

Opponents of gun control are partially right when the say that the problem are not the weapons themselves, but the people. But they are terribly wrong in separating weapon carriers into honest people and criminals, good and bad guys, as if those were definitive definitions.

A legislative hearing recently held in Sacramento revealed that there are 19,748 people who lawfully obtained gun carry permits but should not possess weapons now, because they have been convicted of crimes, are subject to an order of protection for domestic abuse or have been diagnosed with a mental illness. These people, according to the California Department of Justice, are in possession of 40,000 weapons, 38,000 handguns and 2,000 assault rifles. It is estimated that each year, between 2,000 and 3,000 names are added to the list.

In California, this information is known because the state has one of the most accurate databases in the country.

If in California, there are almost 20,000 people who are no longer “honest” and “good” in order to bear arms, how many more are in this same situation in the United States?

It is impossible to know, because this information is not available on a national level. Congress, with backing from the National Rifle Association (NRA), has done as much as possible to prevent the modernization of federal records. They have blocked the establishment of a national weapons registry and the implementation of a modern, updated system like the one in California.

This sabotage of information allows the myth of the good and the bad guys—which the NRA continues to repeat—to persist. We must also take into account the fact that, as incidents show, all it took was frustration or anger (and a firearm) to turn an honest person into a murderer.

There is no doubt that measures like a ban on assault weapons are necessary, but it is even more important to have a database to identify irregularities in weapons possessions. That way the good guys, as the NRA says, will be able to keep their weapons.