It has been 15 years, just 15 years, a little over a decade, the amount of time when a baby becomes a rambunctious teenager saving for a car. In those simple 15 years one entity has changed our world.

It’s not a cure for a disease, it’s not a form of currency that is accepted around the world, it’s not a form of electricity that is self-generating and free for all to use. It is just an eight letter word that most of the world recognizes — Facebook.

This one program, created out of the need to try to hook up college kids with each other, has taken over and entered the homes, businesses and every smart phone on the planet. Found a lost dog? Looking for someone to fix your water heater? Want to show the world how nice your plate of food looks? Interested in over throwing a government? The Facebook opportunities are endless. Sexual predators are banned from Facebook — but the media has found a lot of them seeking love in all the wrong places. Thieves watch feeds to find out when people are going to be away and looking at photos of your household contents. Are we really that clueless? Yep.

What has Facebook taught us? Simple — to trust perfect strangers and to ignore our own neighbors.

Certain states and Congress will be looking at legislation over the next several months regarding expanding back ground checks. For those of you unfamiliar, when you purchase a handgun or long gun in any of our great United States from a gun shop (or gun dealer), you are required to fill out a 4473 form that asks detailed questions about you, where you live and your past — in regards to criminal behavior. A photo ID accompanies this form and if you are buying a handgun in North Carolina, you must also show a NC Purchase Permit (obtained at your local Sheriff’s department for a cost of $5 where they do a background check - and is good for 5 years) or a copy of your NC Conceal Carry permit – which provides proof that you have passed a class and had an extensive background check done.

The talk of expanding background checks comes into play when someone is purchasing a long gun (rifle or shotgun) and does not have a purchase permit or NC Conceal Carry (not required). The gun shop either calls in or goes on line and enters the information on the form. Within a few minutes a response is provided. Proceed – sale is good to go, Further review – a more detailed search is required, Delay – which means there is information that cannot be confirmed and therefore this process may take three business days to complete or a Deny – which means you are not allowed to have a firearm and in fact, it may be a felony for you to have applied for one to begin with. Of course in all matters, a Deny may be based on incorrect information, such as a similar name, and therefore there is an Appeal process.

When a state or government entity talks about expanding a background check I can only image that they mean more questions will need to be answered before providing a response. The problem is that the Federal Form (4473) is just that – a federal form used in all states and not made to be different for different parts of the country. What process would be created to ask additional questions and how would those questions be processed. Who is going to check that additional information?

A criminal with an intent to commit a crime is going to find the means (whether it’s a firearm or another device) anyway they can. Stolen items are what fall into the hands of most of these criminals. We need to stop punishing the law abiding – “Do Right” citizen and start focusing on the real problem – a judicial system with a swinging door that lets criminals back out on the street over and over.

You want to start writing letters? How about you ask every judge to consider whether or not they want the criminal they are about to release living next door to them at the end of the day.

Remember knowledge is power and putting the real blame where it belongs should be simple, but it isn’t.


Dorothy Royal is the owner of Surf City Guns and Ammo, mother of two wonderful children, ringmaster of a herd of miniature ponies and an avid member of the Surf City Writers Group and Topsail Book Club.