Gun control has become a big issue in this campaign, for a variety of reasons. One is the recent shootings. A second is Obama’s probably unconstitutional executive order. Generally I think gun control is useless since someone who is enough of a criminal to shoot someone won’t care about fastidiously obeying gun laws.
There is only one reason I favor background checks and a paper trail for gun purchases; that is to give the police the ability to be the sole witnesses in certain gun incidents. In this story,Fight over Instagram password leads to gunfire in Jersey City, a boyfriend was enraged that his girlfriend wouldn’t yield her Instagram password. The article stated that “(t)he 17-year-old, who the city is not identifying because he is a minor, was arrested at about noon yesterday for making terroristic threats, aggravated assault for knowingly pointing a firearm and three other weapons charges.”
Now there is a very good chance that neither the girlfriend nor her mother will want to testify for the following reasons:
When the boyfriend is free on bail or after he serves any (likely light) sentence he may be a bit threatening or intimidating;
The boyfriend and girlfriend may “make up”
The girlfriend and mother may have other legal problems and may not want to appear in Court; and/or
The girlfriend and mother may have employment or other time constraints and could lose their jobs if they have to appear in Court.
In these circumstances the officer’s testimony alone should be sufficient to obtain a conviction on the weapons’ charges. The threats and assault charges require the girlfriend’s and mother’s cooperation, which may not be readily forthcoming.
Sort of the way Al Capone ultimately ent to jail on tax charges, weapons charges are useful ways of incarcerating people who ought to be convicted.