The FBI has seen a 33-percent increase nationally in the number of background checks for handguns, according to a New York Post article. Although Arizona appears to be seeing a significant spike in requests, other states are also experiencing increases. According to the New York Post piece, the increase stems from insecurity and a lack of personal protection. To paraphrase the article, if a Congresswomen isn’t protected during a speech, how vulnerable are the rest of us?
The sharp spike in federal background checks in Arizona, however, also corresponds with increased sales of high-capacity magazines, which were used by Jared Loughner on Saturday and were outlawed from 1994 to 2004. The New York Times reports that Arizona alone saw 263 background checks on Monday. A year ago, this figure was 164. Not all who have a background check done purchase a firearm, however. Some are disqualified, and others just do not purchase.
A background check is not required for purchasing a magazine, and outlawing high-capacity magazines has become a national topic. An editorial from Monday in New York Magazine discusses the role of background checks in the Arizona shooting. Mainly, that the screening conducted was not thorough enough with Loughner’s history of mental illness and did not question references. Although mental illness is examined for the purchasing of firearms, Loughner was never committed and was not considered mentally defective, and as a result, he was able to purchase a firearm and a bottomless magazine that goes with it.
Although background checks are on the rise at the moment, this incident may be a catalyst for a more thorough approach. Whether or not high-capacity magazines are banned again, the background checks to purchase firearms may need to delve deeper into a person’s mental health history.