When people die, what happens to their guns? Who gets them?
My technical understanding of firearms—of anything, actually, firearms included—is sketchy at best, but I imagine that when properly stored and maintained, or at least unless exposed to corrosive influences like excessive humidity or whatnot, modern heat remains fully operational for many generations. I suppose plenty of Wild-West-era colts and Winchester rifles still exist today whose basic functionality has eroded little to none.
Commendable as background checks are, these checks necessarily extend to no one but the original purchaser of a given firearm and not to, say, his or her mentally disoriented great-grandson that will one day come into its possession through inheritance, not to mention myriad other ways the lethal instrument could conceivably change hands multiple times until it finally succumbs to rust some eight-hundred years down the road.
Making sure the individual that buys a gun has a clean record and is of sound mind seems a goodwill gesture at best if the authorities lose track of the deadly instrument from there on out, as will be the case more often than not due to the exorbitant amount of red tape that would be involved in keeping tabs on every gun’s whereabouts through the centuries, screening every new owner, and confiscating the item forthwith should he or she fail to meet any of the requisite criteria for ownership.
Furthermore, even the most scrupulous background check can assess an aspiring gun owner’s fitness to possess a lethal weapon solely based upon his or her present situation regarding criminal history and psychological salubrity, and only to the extent that relevant information been found its way into the system at the time of purchase.
Background checks, alas, cannot possibly take into account any latent behavior-altering afflictions set to kick in at a later time (such as the emergence of, or a deterioration in, intoxication habits, mood disorders, dementia, behavior-altering glioplastomas like the one that allegedly compelled Charles Whitman to set up atop the UT Austin tower in 1966 and systematically pick off dozens of students and faculty, etc.), thus potentially turning an erstwhile responsible gun owner into a loose cannon in the most literal of senses.
What’s the solution?
I have no idea.