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Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette Logo Berlin, Ocean Pines News Worcester County Bayside Gazette


Better background checks

In the aftermath of the Charleston, S.C. church massacre, the public’s focus has turned to the appropriateness of flying the Confederate battle flag at government institutions, rather than on the greater problem of how a deranged black-hating person like Dylaan Roof got a gun in the first place.
Hauling down that flag at South Carolina’s capital and denying its use in other official instances there and elsewhere is a matter of showing respect for all residents of those regions and is clearly the right thing to do.
Still, the national coverage that this symbolic gesture has engendered accomplishes little except to make some people feel that a colossal societal shift has somehow taken place when it has not.
What it does is eliminate the perception that government condones a racist philosophy, while also wishing that the Civil War had turned out differently when it ended 150 years ago.
But what it also does is misdirect the national discussion from the more important problem of how to reduce the odds that an unhinged assailant will shoot up a church, a school, a theater or any of the other places innocent people have been gunned down in recent years.
While we just might be able to agree on the flag business, what we apparently cannot do is agree that we need stricter background checks on potential gun owners.
Undoubtedly, opponents of any kind of gun control will argue that there’s no effective way to separate insane from “normal” people, but making that effort would at least acknowledge that we want to try.
Two years ago, the so-called Manchin-Toomey amendment that would have expanded background checks fell six votes short of passing in the U.S. Senate, after the measure sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) was accused by opponents of containing all sorts of excesses, many of which did not exist.
Curiously, many members of Congress and other elected officials have no problem at all with government restricting other individual freedoms or collecting all kinds of data on individuals in the name of national security, but oppose doing anything to address our apparent decline in domestic security.