Even gun laws can’t end ignorance | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Even gun laws can’t end ignorance

A sixteen-year-old boy was shot dead. The three teenage girls, unwitting witnesses to the senseless tragedy, will never erase the graphic memories of that awful moment.

What began as a cruel, misguided joke ended with a single, horrific, fatal shot – a shot that has changed so many lives permanently.

The 23-year-old man charged with second-degree murder in connection with the shooting told police he was simply showing the four teens how to fire the gun. That he did so with a live round of ammunition in the chamber is the reason he faces second-degree murder charges.

The man got the gun from his employer, a security company, where the man worked as a guard. That begs the question of why such an irresponsible, immature man issued a gun in the first place?

The fact is that almost anyone without a criminal record can get a gun in 15 days in this state – any loser with a grudge, any smitten stalker, anyone who wants one no matter the reason. That’s the law. And that’s where the blame should start.

For a person to become a security guard and carry a weapon on duty, the stakes are raised some, but not much. Basically, security guard applicants must take some firearms courses and must be issued a permit. That permit must be renewed periodically.

And that’s the next problem. While it is more difficult to get a permit to carry a gun as a security guard than it is just to carry a gun, which only requires a concealed weapons permit, there is still no real background check or extensive firearms training.

Contrast that with the extensive training and intensive background checks required of police officers. According to South Lake Tahoe Police Commander George Brown, police recruits must go through 20 weeks of academy training, which includes intensive firearms training, as well as a battery of psychological tests, background checks, drug testing and polygraph tests. As Brown says, to get through the whole thing that recruit “must really want to be a police officer.”

If a security guard is allowed to carry a gun on duty, shouldn’t he or she be subjected to the nearly the same scrutiny as a police officer? Granted a security guard will never face the complexity of situations that a police officer faces on a daily basis. But the minute a man or woman is allowed to carry arms while at work, the risks associated with that person are greatly escalated. Only careful scrutiny and training reduce that risk.

The fault lies not with the security companies themselves, which are trying to cast about for the best employees they can find in a limited labor market with little better than minimum wages to offer. Security companies are bound by the rules, but no more than that.

Again the fault lies with our inane guns laws.

But the bottom line is nothing can eliminate sheer stupidity – no new laws, no new background checks or psychological testing. Anyone who puts a live round of ammunition in a weapon for reasons other than hunting or self-defense should be held completely responsible for the consequences.

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