Sounds like a reasonable guy. Even believes in more well designed and stringent rules, including training.

A reasonable guy with a gun, OCing in Tennessee.

Nice article,BTW, by the Amy O. Williams. (I wonder if shehas a sister named Wendy...?) Only a little spin/inaccuracy...

Professor Mulroymakes some strong points, although the die-hardpro guns/rights folks won't likethem...

Trends & Analysis
In Light of Va. Tech Tragedy, Some Wonder if Gun Laws Should Change

May 7, 2007

AMY O. WILLIAMS | The Daily News

ARMED TO PROTECT: Business owner Sam Wolfe wears his .32-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol at all times while working.--PHOTO BY AMY O. WILLIAMS

Editor's Note: This article is part of a continuing series examining the Virginia Tech killing spree and its effects in Memphis.

Sam Wolfe's family started out in the dry-cleaning business almost 35 years ago. Today, they own dry cleaners in Collierville, Olive Branch, Memphis, Oakland and Somerville.

As a business owner, Wolfe has become accustomed to the fact he needs to protect himself and his family.

And for Wolfe, that protection comes in the form of the .32-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol he wears on his side.

"We have businesses in some areas that have been robbed (at gun point), and I just decided to carry one for my and my family's safety," Wolfe said. "After you get a gun put in your face from someone who is probably not carrying a gun permit, and know they don't know the laws, you start trying to protect yourself."

Could've been prevented?

Following the April 16 tragedy at Virginia Tech, in which student Seung-Hui Cho shot and killed 32 students before taking his life, many are beginning to look at how people access guns in the first place. For Cho, it was as easy as walking into a Virginia gun store in March and paying for a Glock 9 mm handgun and box of shells.

Because Cho had no felony convictions and had never been committed to a mental hospital, any information regarding his mental health was not included in the statewide database used to screen people before they buy guns.

And while he passed an initial background check at the time he bought his guns, a Virginia court found in 2005 that Cho posed an "imminent danger to himself as a result of mental illness," according to an article that appeared in the April 21 edition of The Roanoke Times. But that information was not available during a background check because Cho had not been committed to a mental hospital against his will.

"If they outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns because the people who are killing people in the schools or people that are robbing the banks and the stores and people that are putting guns in my family's face in a dry cleaners, these are not people who have been through a class. They are not carrying a handgun permit."
- Sam Wolfe
Memphis-area business owner

Connecting the dots

Shelby County District Attorney General Bill Gibbons said states need to do more when it comes to keeping guns out of the hands of people like Cho, who have mental health problems.

And while Tennessee does have a background check requirement in place, it only checks to see if the potential gun buyer is a convicted felon, and no permit is required at the time of purchase.

"I do think that states, whether it be Tennessee or Virginia or any other state, that we have got to take a better look at also identifying those with severe mental problems, who may be seeking to purchase a gun," Gibbons said. "And a lot of that involves tying together our mental health system with our law enforcement system, and we have not done a good enough job of that in the past."

Gibbons was in Nashville last week to promote tougher sentencing laws as part of the Tennessee Public Safety Coalition, which represents prosecutors, police chiefs and sheriffs from across the state. The coalition is pushing for legislation that would add more prosecutors, stricter punishment for violent crimes committed by three or more people and more jail time for second-degree murders in which guns were used.

Gibbons said he is hopeful the General Assembly will join the effort because, as he said during a press conference Monday in Nashville, the first line of the Tennessee state constitution reads, "That all power is inherent in the people, and all free governments are founded on their authority, and instituted for their peace, safety, and happiness."

Second Amendment rights

In the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting, some people have begun to question the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and its prohibiting of Congress from infringement of "the right of the people to keep and bear arms."

And while that might be the case, it really shouldn't be, said Steven J. Mulroy, associate professor at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.

"Regardless of where you come out on the Second Amendment, most interpretations of it would probably not forbid some sort of reasonable regulation on access to guns, such as a background check," Mulroy said. "The kind of things that would have prevented (the incident at) Virginia Tech, like keeping someone with a history of mental problems from owning a gun, would likely not violate the Second Amendment regardless of how you interpret it."

And the type of control that could keep a person with a history of proven mental illness from buying a gun is something that both Gibbons and Mulroy said could be a positive thing to come out of the tragedy in Virginia.

"If some public body has already issued a finding that someone has a mental impairment, I think it might be a reasonable restriction to say that, at least if it were serious enough, that would be one of the things that would come up as a red flag when you do the background check," Mulroy said.

However, he said, if the proposal tried to reach too broadly and allow law enforcement to have access to private medical records, he said it could violate a person's rights in service of gun safety.

As a business owner and someone who carries a handgun permit, Wolfe said he would not be opposed to stricter gun laws.

"I wouldn't be opposed to taking a recurrence course just to make sure you still know the laws, but if they outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns," Wolfe said, "because the people who are killing people in the schools or people that are robbing the banks and the stores and people that are putting guns in my family's face in a dry cleaners, these are not people who have been through a class. They are not carrying a handgun permit."