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Gun Control and Dog Adoption

I can bring home Smith & Wesson based on my own merit, but Fido requires a full-family meet and greet.

One of the ideas I’ve heard floated in the post-Newtown gun-control debate is to conduct background checks on not only the gun applicant, but every person in his or her household. After all, Adam Lanza committed his horrendous massacre with guns that were legally purchased and owned by his mother.

This thought came to mind anew this week, as I go through the process of picking and adopting a rescue dog from a local shelter: No matter how much of a dog lover I appear to be, no matter how earnest my desire to give a good home to a deserving animal, this shelter’s policy requires that the dog “meet” every member of my family—including a previous dog we adopted there—before they’ll allow me to adopt him.

Think about this for a moment. I’m required to “audition” my entire family to take a dog home, but if I want to bring a deadly firearm into my household, the seller is required to consider my qualifications alone to own it.

As a society, we make a big assumption that when a gun is purchased, it will be kept secure from theft and abuse. We expect it will be locked up unless it’s being used, and certainly won’t fall into the hands of a curious child. Most parents as a matter of common sense will take steps to prevent an accidental discharge, and even then we routinely hear about tragic incidents involving children. But what of an older member of the household, who not only has the forethought to use a gun, but likely the means to obtain it from that locked box, bottom of the nightstand drawer, or even a gun safe?

It could be someone who’s been diagnosed with a mental issue. It might be someone with an exceptionally short temper. Or it could just be an emotionally troubled teen who’s tired of the bullying or wants revenge for a perceived sleight.  Granted, these characteristics may not always be obvious to the layman or the gunshop owner, but if there’s a criminal record, a stint in rehab, an enforced institutionalization, or an actual diagnosis, that could be enough to raise a red flag that this applicant’s home environment is not conducive to gun ownership.

It’s an old societal irony that in the United States, you need a license to get married, but you don’t need any official document to take on one of life’s biggest responsibilities—having a child.

It’s just as ironic that to adopt a dog, a shelter requires that dog to meet everyone in the family where it will live. But to buy a gun, only the individual owner has to undergo scrutiny. As the Newtown massacre proved, that’s just not sufficient.  A background check of not only the applicant, but each member of the household in which the gun will be kept, should become de rigueur in the gun-buying process.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Maureen Koplow January 21, 2013 at 05:05 PM
Your response is rude and insulting. You imply that I don't understand the English language and that I am incapable of forming an educated opinion. People who don't have the facts on their side often resort to personal attacks, and I must conclude that is what you are doing. As for the laws that you suggest are already on the books, they are being enforced in the majority of cases. Biden is the man chosen by our President to formulate a gun control plan, so your suggestion that he doesn't think we should have such laws is ludicrous. I admire our Vice President, and I believe he is one of the most sincere and intelligent people serving in government. But the laws you are refering to are not the issue in the nation's current discussion of gun control laws. Sadly, the law banning assault weapons was allowed to expire, and I believe it needs to be reinstituted. Laws regarding background checks do not apply to gun shows, and I believe they should. There are no current laws limiting the number of bullets in a clip, nor are there laws limiting the amount of ammunition nor the type of ammunition that can be purchased. This will be my last reply, since no one but you seem to be reading them, and we both know your opinions and mine.
Paul J. DiBartolo January 21, 2013 at 06:05 PM
And I guess he never plagiarized either. His plagiarizing was an attempt to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people...you know, acting like something that you copied was, in fact, yours. Trying to act like you're something that you're not. A real upstanding guy. And who can forget what he said about his good friend Barack Obama when he was running against him in the primary. I guess all's fair when you are trying to win the nomination and you can say whatever it takes but if I, a common citizen, make a criticism...oh, watch out. I'm sorry if I offended you but this is for grown-ups and that's how I react to wrong thinking. There's such a thing as the 2nd Amendment and it insults me when people, whomever they are, attempt to thwart the Law of the Land and abridge my rights. What you are calling for is an outright affront to that law...and the 2nd Amendment is the law before anything that Joe Biden, Barrack Obama, or you think is right. I believe these laws in New Jersey regarding firearms are unconstitutional and at some point will have to be resolved. Yes, that is my opinion. BTW, there are laws in New Jersey that do exactly what you say...are you aware of them? Finally, Joe Biden said, "...we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form..." So, if we cannot prosecute the laws we already have, how in the world will we find the time or the wherewithal to prosecute new laws? You have yet to answer that.
Jon Zieg March 12, 2013 at 08:24 PM
"I believe he is one of the most sincere and intelligent people serving in government." This is the same Joe Biden who, in an interview with Field & Stream Magazine suggested people "just fire the shotgun through the door". That's not intelligent, and it violates one of the most important safety rules of firearm ownership which is know your target.
Jon Zieg March 12, 2013 at 08:40 PM
I know I'm late to the party, but I just happened across this article when I was doing research on my recent rescue dog. The premise between background checks for adopting a dog and background checks for purchasing a firearm, while is an interesting one doesn't hold up much weight if analyzed from a practical stand point . The whole inanimate object vs living creature aside, full background checks of family member would do little help stop rare incidents like Newtown. Yes, Adam Lanza obtained the firearms from his mothers house, but he killed his mother. Somebody capable of that atrocity is very capable of breaking into a house, killing a random neighbor or even a police office and obtaining a weapon. Most of the violence that occurs with respect to gun ownership is carried out due to the drug trade. If you want to end gun violence, address the societal issues that lead to someone picking up a weapon and miss using it.
Paul J. DiBartolo March 12, 2013 at 09:50 PM
It also smacks of 'guilt by association.' We're already having enough trouble with that methodology when receiving Red-Light-Camera tickets.

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