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Holmes Case Shows Gaps in Background Check System

Background checks have been hailed as a gun control measure in many states. And I think that, in a lot of cases, background checks do manage to keep guns out of the hands of many people who -- for various reasons -- shouldn't have them. However, according to The Lookout, background checks didn't prevent Aurora, Colo., movie theater shooter James Holmes from acquiring four handguns and nearly 6,300 rounds of ammunition online and in person.

As testified to in the preliminary hearing for Holmes, held in Colorado this week, there is no process in Colorado to screen out severely mentally ill people from the purchase of weapons. While Holmes is suspected to be severely mentally ill, he had never been adjudicated mentally ill by the court. He had no criminal record or pending domestic violence cases against him.

So could the background checks be made stronger? Perhaps. I think that the notion of someone amassing a bunch of guns and ammunition in a short time frame could be studied. If the purchase of the materials used to make meth can be tracked, preventing someone from acquiring a large amount, why can't ammunition and firearms sales be tracked? Why can't, when someone is purchasing a gun or ammunition, a notice appear that the same person has purchased three more guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition in a very short period of time? Is there any logical explanation for a person amassing that sort of weaponry and ammunition?

Even if background checks were harder to pass, I realize that it still isn't going to completely end gun violence. Nor is making it illegal to own a gun going to prevent criminals from acquiring one. But it seems that there are gaps in the system that are allowing people to purchase a lot of guns and a lot of ammunition. It seems that closing those gaps with more rigorous background checks would be a good place to start with gun control.

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