The recent rash of school shootings and homegrown terrorism has pushed conversations about gun rights to the forefront of public discussion. There are many people demanding “gun control”, as well as many who are opposed, but can we really find a solution that works for everyone when the term “gun control” itself is so nebulous?

There are those who would like to see every firearm disappear, but that’s not what gun control advocates are aiming for; “common sense gun laws” is a more descriptive term. Let’s examine the two main ideas inherent in that phrase.

Universal Background Checks

At the time of this writing, there are over 30 states which have a “gun show loophole” — a complicated flaw in the law which allows buyers to purchase firearms at a gun show or from a private seller without a background check. Known domestic abusers and dangerous felons have an easy time gaining a gun in this manner, aided by the fact that there is no federal database requiring states’ mandatory reporting of who these weapons are going to.

Critics feel that a national database of gun owners puts individuals at risk should the government ever decide to confiscate all firearms. Such critics fail to realize that the same amendment that gives them the right to bear arms was created to also prevent just such a totalitarian scenario.

Mental Health Evaluations

Another suggestion has been to bar the mentally ill from purchasing firearms. However, obsessive-compulsive disorder, executive dysfunction, and other disorders all fall under the umbrella of mental health issues. Few people would be inclined to wrongly assume that an anxious person who has difficulty meeting deadlines is a mass murderer because of their condition.

Even with illnesses like schizophrenia, which the public imagines being more violent than others, the potential for violence is low. According to, it’s more likely that any violence committed by a person living with schizophrenia will be directed at the self than at others.

We must be careful not to succumb to paranoia– or to throw mentally ill people under the bus– in our quest to create a safer country. Purchasers should be evaluated for violent proclivities on an individual basis, and the path of each gun traced from its origin to its new home.