Letter: A Deceptive Look at Background Checks

To the Editor:

The technology in my DVR insulates me from most advertisements. That insulation is especially appreciated during what seems to be the never-ending political season during which ad after ad simply attacks one candidate or another.

Sometimes my finger is not fast enough to save me, and that is how I viewed what may be the most deceptive and hypocritical advertisement that I ever recall seeing. Now that I recognize the graphics, I see it often as I speed through ads, and it seems ubiquitous.

The ad, sponsored by Independence USA PAC, (whoever they are) attacks candidate for governor Ken Cuccinelli for his opposing "comprehensive background checks at gun shows" which the ad claims would "close the gun show loophole." I am writing not to address the merits of the argument for background checks, but to point out the deception practiced in this TV ad.

The ad criticizes Attorney General Cuccinelli for opposing "comprehensive background checks" at gun shows which the ad says would deny guns to criminals and the "dangerous mentally ill." The ad then flashes on the screen photos of four killers. I think killers receive much too much publicity, so I will not mention their names. Here they are, and how they got their guns:

VA Tech murderer — purchased two pistols from a FFL (Federal Firearms Licensee) not at a gun show, so he passed two NICS (National Instant Criminal Background Check System) checks.

Sandy Hook murderer — after murdering his mother, he stole four of her guns that she had purchased from FFL dealers; not at a gun show; passing NICS checks in the process, and which she had failed to secure properly.

Navy Yard murderer — purchased a shotgun from a Virginia FFL dealer, which meant that he passed the background check conducted by the Virginia State Police that includes a NICS check.

Aurora, Colorado, murderer — purchased four guns in separate transactions at FFL stores and passed four separate NICS checks.

Four murderers; 11 weapons; at least eight (probably 11) background checks; no gun show purchase.

So, this ad uses the photos of mass murderers for emotional effect, implying that "closing the gun show loophole" would have prevented these tragedies.

The ad is deceptive; dishonest, hypocritical; and unethical, to say nothing of illogical. But then I already said it was political advertising.

I will let the reader draw a conclusion as to those who approved it.

H. M. Padon

Great Falls