I have been giving a lot of thought as to how I should write about the murders at the Planned Parenthood in Colorado Springs. Should I discuss how this was an act of terrorism or perhaps address the people who used the terms “baby parts” and how rhetoric and lies can become a call to arms for fanatics and the marginalized? After all Bill O’Reilly, George Will, Carly Fiorina and their ilk should be held accountable for their words. However, in the few days it took me to complete my research there was another mass shooting. Actually, there were two but the four people shot in Georgia (three injured, one death) didn’t make much news because 14 were assassinated in California and another 17 were wounded.
So I just want to focus on one fact, that it is easier to buy a gun in the United States that it is to by Sudafed.
Sudafed contains pseudoephedrine, which can be used to make methamphentemine. The meth problem was considered serious enough that the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005 was signed into law. This means pseudoephedrine, phenylpropanolamine, and ephedrine (precursor chemicals that can be used to make methamphetamine and found in some sinus medications) have a per transaction sales limit, i.e. the amount that can be sold at a single time is limited. In addition, these chemicals must be kept behind-the-counter or locked in a cabinet. Sellers are regulated and must be able to provide proof of compliance and keep a written log of purchases. Monthly sales per purchaser are also restricted and so identification is required to buy them. Internet vendors are not exempt.
But guns kill over 33,000 people a year and cost America $229 billion/year and they are easier to buy than Sudafed. No form of identification is required at a gun show or online. We also don’t limit the number of firearms that can be purchased at single encounter or over any time frame. .
The math is simple, the more guns the greater the risk of death just like the easier it is to get pseudoephedrine the easier it is to make meth.
It’s true that good people don’t kill, but it’s also true that people who don’t use or make meth don’t abuse Sudafed yet we still make them go through some simple steps to reduce the risk of abuse and to help keep everyone safer.
Our government is more concerned about Sudafed than guns and I think that pretty much says it all.
Lots of snarky and comments and insults directed to me on Twitter since this post appeared a few hours ago from people who apparently think any attempt to reduce deaths from gun violence is a negative thing.
Let me say that again, people who think trying to reduce harm and save lives is a goal to be ridiculed.
They tell me I am wrong (and stupid and lots of other nasty things), because clearly all guns all require background checks and identification and gun sales are super duper safe already. This means they either can’t read, haven’t bothered to check, or simply listen to the drivel spouted by the NRA.
Private sales do not require much of anything in most states. This was the whole point of closing the gun show loophole, which of course failed to pass.
In Alaska you can sell a firearm to someone privately as long as you believe they are over 18 and you think they are not drunk or otherwise intoxicated. Pretty much the same goes in Texas too. And a lot of other states.
A study that compared gun show sales in California (which imposes additional regulations) with states that do not tells us that regulations reduce straw purchases. Gun shows are a major channel for trafficking illegal weapons, and that can only be because it is easier to get a weapon at a gun show than from a licensed dealer. Many gun shows require no state or federally issued photo ID to buy a firearm. With Sudafed you require ID, there is no federally sanctioned back door option to buy Sudafed from unlicensed pharmacists.
This man tweeted about how easy it was for him to get a gun with no photo ID, just a fishing license he got without providing any identification:
— Eric Ohlsen (@OhlsenEric) December 2, 2015
As a pharmacist must ask for identification and record the sale there is a searchable Sudafed registry. There is no federal law requiring a registry for gun purchases.
And as for online? You can sell or buy a gun via Armslist. Obviously you have to meet in person to finish the transaction, but no ID appears to be required.
And here’s another nice tidbits, 94% of licensed declared were willing to to complete a gun sale when it appeared the sale was on behalf of a prohibited person. I’m pretty sure if a pharmacist suspected the Sudafed was going to be used for meth they wouldn’t sell it (although as quantities are restricted it wouldn’t really be an issue).
So while many licensed dealers may follow the law, the fact that there are so many legal ways to get guns from unlicensed dealers, family and friends without requiring identification (and with no limit on the quantity sold) and no registry clearly makes it easier to get a gun than Sudafed.