It happens, again

It was sometime last Friday night. There wasn’t much information being released by authorities in Connecticut, which was understandable. After all, these were all fairly nice people, one could assume—all these deputies and firemen and medics and so forth—and all of a sudden, they’re having to deal with a horror that no movie would ever create. (Would any director ever dare show a bunch of 6-year-olds getting shot?) So there was some misinformation and speculation, as the people in charge held a tight rein on confirmed data. But something was bugging me about this particular story, and I couldn’t quite put a finger on it.

Then, Saturday morning, it hit me. There were no injured or wounded. None. Everybody involved in this shooting was dead. Everyone. That never happens. There are always wounded/injured, and usually in greater numbers than those killed. Not this time. Ghastly. (As it turns out, two adults did indeed survive. Vice Principal Nancy Hammond is still in the hospital but expected to live. No word on the identity of the second yet.)

America’s mindset was rocked by Sandy Hook. The unbelievable evil of that half hour on Friday the 14th has stirred millions out of our coma involving guns and our ongoing national bloodbath. I mean, when a goon like Jared Loughner—who shot Gabby Giffords in Tucson in January ’11 but “only” killed 6—is made to look like a relative piker by two different massacres in ’12 (Aurora and Sandy Hook), it’s getting pretty bad.

One thoroughly appropriate target for those who have been stirred to do something about all these damn guns out here in the great wasteland (approximately 280 million, almost one for every citizen of the U.S.) is the so-called Gun Show Loophole. And yes, this is one loophole that needs to be closed up tighter than the proverbial gnat’s ass. It’s frightening.

It’s true that all federally licensed gun dealers at gun shows must submit the name of a potential customer to a system called the NICS (National Instant Background Check System). OK, fine. The loophole exists when private citizens are involved in selling weapons. They are indeed allowed to participate in gun shows and sell, but not compelled to submit a potential customer to the NICS. Some conscientious citizen gun dealers will ask for ID, usually a driver’s license, when selling guns at a show. But they don’t have to do even that. They don’t have to submit any name to the NCIS. And there’s your loophole.

The annual holiday gun show will be at the Reno Convention Center this weekend (Dec 22-23). It’s not unfair to wonder if the next mentally unstable time bomb of a human will be shopping there, possessing only cash and a driver’s license and a desire to build an arsenal. As usual, your best defense is simply—stay lucky.