Hundreds of people
October 16, 2002 6:23 PM   Subscribe

Hundreds of people with criminal records in Maryland may have been allowed to purchase guns illegally this year because the state temporarily stopped conducting background checks for the FBI.[More Inside]
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood (18 comments total)
Maryland's state archivists notified the FBI in March that they would no longer perform criminal background checks of people who had applied to buy firearms because budget cuts had left the agency shorthanded...

This continued until July when the office finally received $45,000 to cover it's costs. The agency did not received any of the $6.7 million in federal funds allocated to Maryland since 1995 to modernize its criminal record-keeping and comply with federal gun control laws.

Edward C. Papenfuse, the head state archivist, wrote to Gov. Parris N. Glendening (D) in March to ask for money to pay a staff member to perform the background checks for the FBI, but was told that no funds were available until July 1.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:23 PM on October 16, 2002

so the problem is one of ENFORCEMENT in this case, which is surprising in light of the left wing's incessant call for MORE LAWS against guns.

posted by jtm at 7:15 PM on October 16, 2002

So lemme get this straight yeah. The courts don't have the resources to promptly process many criminal cases, which is surprising given those incessant calls for the DC sniper be arrested.
posted by The Great Satan at 7:36 PM on October 16, 2002

All I can say, Is that I wonder how this will play out in the governor's race...
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 8:01 PM on October 16, 2002

So an armed populace hasn't made Maryland and Virginia safe, which is surprising in light of the right wing's incessant calls for FEWER LAWS to regulate gun ownership.

Oh well. enough anti-gun swill from me, eh? I too am confident that in the end, the sniper will be found to be a member of a well-regulated militia, and his gun use therefore cool. Or gosh, maybe he's just trying to assert his right to strike out at a tyrannical system of government. I mean, that is one of the standard NRA lines about why we need more guns in the hands of citizens, isn't it?
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 8:36 PM on October 16, 2002

Why don't you just go live on a gun-free commune foldy, and then my gun-toting commune can declare war, invade, and run off with your women, children, and delicacies.

What I'm really interested in is the fact that this sniper has this thing down to a pretty fine science, and I don't think he's going to be caught :(
posted by insomnyuk at 8:40 PM on October 16, 2002

I can't think of any good reason for a private citizen to have a gun. Sorry. The gun lobby is just looking to make a profit on fear and hatred.
posted by zanpo at 8:49 PM on October 16, 2002

i'm sick of the politicizing of this sniper issue. sick of it.

a: gun control laws don't really work. criminals still get them. [see drug laws]

b: a bunch of people carrying guns would have no effect on catching the sniper. only one person has actually seen him in the act (if police sources are to be believed). it was farther away than even a good pistol shooter would be able hit someone, and it was dark and crowded. also, the police would have to deal with even more false leads from all the people who were spotted close to the scene with guns.

a pox on both your houses.
posted by lescour at 9:03 PM on October 16, 2002

It could be this kind of gun.
posted by insomnyuk at 9:30 PM on October 16, 2002

Well, I'm sick of people always complaining about [x] being political. Everything is political. Get use to it.
posted by slipperywhenwet at 9:31 PM on October 16, 2002

insomnyuk-Good link. The police know if the weapon is a semi-auto or a single shot based on the firing marks left on the case found. Unless it is a red hering...*sigh*. They should state what kind of case they found with that caveat.

Personally, I doubt it is a handgun. That would be too specialized. Much like the Son of Sam killer using air marshall ammo.

Back to the post--it is too bad the archivists didn't notify the FBI of this. Why didn't the FBI notice that it wasn't getting any responses to is requests for background checks?
posted by mcchesnj at 10:03 PM on October 16, 2002

so the problem is one of ENFORCEMENT in this case, which is surprising in light of the left wing's incessant call for MORE LAWS against guns.

jtm: I think it's only an enforcement problem to the extent monies are not provided to enforce laws already on the books. If funding to enforce laws was tied (in the legislative process) to the enactment of laws such that one couldn't pass a law unless an independent outside body determines it'll cost $X and $X is appropriated to enforce it. When people carp about enforcing laws already on the books, this is part of their complaint whether they realize it or not. Doing something like this could also cut down on the number of new bills introduced if a price tag were attached prior to any vote. OTOH, if they're not going to fund enforcement for more and more "left-wing" gun laws, why worry? It's not like they're actually going to pay anyone to go out and enforce it, right?
posted by trondant at 11:02 PM on October 16, 2002

f_&_m: I can't decide whether the snipers are home-grown or not. I have no knowledge either way. The US military seems to be telling the press that's not the way they work, but these guys have enjoyed too many escapes to conclude that they're just nuts. Maybe they're nuts and smart, too. At any rate, if you want to get in a dig at the NRA there's no need to bring militias into it. Just point out that no foreign terrorist in his right mind would ever dream in a million years of trying to smuggle a rifle into the US when it's so ridiculously easy to pick one up or steal one once you get in. Probably better selection than where he came from, to boot. No need to preposition buried caches of arms and ammo, just run down to the sporting goods store after a visit to your regional gun show.
If the NRA could be made to understand that it's not only Floyd R. Turbo Americans who can get their hands on guns in the U.S. (legally or otherwise,) you'd think they'd go for instant background checks and fingerprint pads on grips/stocks. Yeah, any system can be circumvented, but why make it too easy?
posted by trondant at 11:20 PM on October 16, 2002

First off, The Great Satan is a killer name. It really grabs your attention.
So lemme get this straight yeah. The courts don't have the resources to promptly process many criminal cases, which is surprising given those incessant calls for the DC sniper be arrested.

Secondly, D.C. Sniper would be a great name for a band.

posted by internook at 2:19 AM on October 17, 2002

This is only one of the many reasons why a ballistics database would be another waste of money: any period of inadequate funding compromises the entire system.

People seem to just think the money to pay for these programs will just appear from nowhere. They say pass the expense to the consumer. The problem is that the largest consumer of weapons and ammunition in the US is the US government and the aggregate of state, county and local governments.

Another instance is Georgia's crime labs are seriously understaffed. "To solve the 1999 backlog, [Governor] Barnes allocated $25 million for 85 GBI lab staffers and equipment. But 40 of the 85 new hires have left".

How many other states are inadequately enforcing laws because they lack the money?
posted by mischief at 4:28 AM on October 17, 2002

so the problem is one of ENFORCEMENT in this case

Exactly. The state didn't enforce the laws, because they couldn't pay people to do the assorted paperwork necessary to enforce the laws. Surely, all you free-market types understand that. Looked at that way, it's a simple economic exchange: the people of Maryland decided they didn't want to enforce those laws. You get what you pay for. So quit yer bitchin', Steve.

This has nothing to do with not being able to enforce the laws (though I don't expect no-name trolls to understand or care about that).
posted by octobersurprise at 6:16 AM on October 17, 2002

jtm & trondant have it right. fold_and _mutilate, you're rabid and need to be put down - what you offer isn't reasoned argument, just invective and partisan venom. What good are laws that aren't funded/enforced, other than to give the self-deluded a false feeling of security "that sometimes being done, thank God." If you need such a blanket, go to GB or Australia - see how the comman man there likes their rise in violent & property crime after their draconian gun laws. Forget the sniper - the issue seems to me to be the inevitable future calls for more laws when the ones we have are inadequately funded to enforce in light of competing priorities. Lescour - law abiding citizens all over use weapons to interdict crime, although it is infrequently ballyhooed in the media the way gun crime is - while your assertion may have probabilistic validity, the underlying premise that legal weapons can't/won't be used successfully in defense of others is flawed.
posted by Pressed Rat at 10:58 AM on October 17, 2002

what you offer isn't reasoned argument, just invective and partisan venom

fold_and _mutilate, you're rabid and need to be put down

Mr. Pot, no! Mr. Kettle's black!? You don't say!
posted by octobersurprise at 11:23 AM on October 17, 2002

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