How So Many Violent Felons Are Allowed to Keep Their Illegal Guns 槍擊事件不斷 美國重刑犯為何仍能擁槍？
文/Richard A. Oppel Jr.
The workplace shooting in a Chicago suburb last month that left five people dead exposed the failings of the system designed to keep guns away from felons and others deemed too dangerous to handle firearms.
Federal law bars gun ownership by felons, fugitives, drug abusers, people adjudicated to be mentally ill, those dishonorably discharged from the military or living in the country illegally, and by convicted domestic abusers or others subject to domestic violence restraining orders. But experts say the number of people who are barred from owning guns but have them anyway may reach into the millions.
Only eight states have laws that provide an explicit mechanism so people suspected of having guns in violation of those prohibitions are actually required to give them up. And some of those states merely allow — but do not require — police to seek a court order to confiscate such guns.
That was the case in Illinois, where authorities knew for more than four years that Gary Martin was a violent felon but apparently did nothing to ensure he surrendered the laser-sighted Smith & Wesson handgun that he used to kill five co-workers on February 15th.Only a single state — California — has a database dedicated to tracking firearm owners who have lost their right to possess a gun.
Aside from California, only Connecticut and Nevada expressly require felons to provide proof to courts or to law enforcement they have turned over guns after conviction, according to the Giffords Law Center. Illinois and four other states — Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and Pennsylvania — also provide statutory mechanisms for felons to turn over illegally possessed weapons, though the procedures are not as stringent.
But when Illinois lawmakers sought to tighten state law so police would be mandated to confiscate guns owned by people barred from possessing them, or at least verify the guns had been transferred to legal owners, concerns about manpower helped doom the proposal.
Martin was issued a state firearm owner's card in January 2014 — and five weeks later he passed a background check to buy his handgun — even though he had been convicted of aggravated assault for stabbing a former girlfriend with a knife and hitting her with a baseball bat in Mississippi in 1995.
Illinois State Police said Martin lied on his firearm owner's card application about whether he had any felony convictions.
Joining Forces to Give Europe Its Own Army 德荷聯手 打造歐洲自己的部隊
On a former Cold War base, German and Dutch soldiers, serving together in one tank battalion, stood to attention one recent morning and shouted their battle cry in both languages.
"We fight —," their commander bellowed.
"— for Germany!" the battalion replied in unison.
"We fight —," the commander shouted.
"— for the Netherlands!" his soldiers yelled back.
They are not shouting "for Europe." Not yet.
But the battalion — Europe's first made up of soldiers from two countries — is an important baby step toward deeper European military cooperation. First floated after World War II, the idea of a European army is as old as the European Union itself, but has yet to become a reality.
At a high-level security conference last month, the breach between the United States and Europe burst into the open, leaving many European officials feeling increasingly on their own.
"Everyone is talking about a European army," Lt. Col. Marco Niemeyer, the German commander of the battalion, said. "We are pioneers."
Yet if some powerful European leaders are talking more loudly about a European military, the political moment is fraught. Populist parties are surging across the Continent, amid a rising nationalism that threatens European cohesion and has made the prospect of surrendering sovereignty on a sensitive issue like national security even harder.
The German military already has too few soldiers, too little equipment and faces shortages of just about everything, even thermal underwear, which in some cases is being reclassified as "functional" so that it can be reused by others.
The military base in Lohheide is the continent's difficult history writ small. Built by the Nazis in the 1930s, and used by Allied forces during the Cold War when West Germany was still NATO's eastern border state, it is now home to an experiment in post-national defense.
The battalion is German, but 1 in 4 of its soldiers are Dutch. The tanks are German, the radio system is Dutch and the language of command increasingly English. Often Germans and Dutch ride in the same tank.