Time to Prove I’m Not a Felon (Again)

posted in: Personal, Politics | 0
Ohio State University

It’s that time again. Five years fly by whether you’re having fun or not. The Ohio Department of Education, my Hamilton County employer, even the app developer that enables me to find substitute jobs, they’ve all informed me it is time to submit to another FBI/BCI background check.


I admit I resent it. It’s (mildly) humiliating. It takes an hour out of my day. It costs me a hundred bucks. And it seems so unnecessary. Wouldn’t my employer know if I had been convicted of a crime in the years I have been working for them?



I resent it, but I’ll go through with the background check because it allows me to do the work I enjoy and that pays (some of) my bills. It is, in the end, a small inconvenience, a minor irritant.


One thing I won’t do is protest that it curtails my freedom. The law, in its ham-fisted way, exists to protect children. Yet Ohio evidently has no similar concern for the safety of children (or adults) when it comes to guns. Our state requires no background check for those who would purchase hand guns or even semi-automatic rifles.


I have read the words of those who resist this added restriction. They invoke lofty abstractions of personal liberty and the Constitution, belied by a tone that is, to varying degrees, defensive and self-righteous. They invoke the Second Amendment, but how does a background check curtail the right to own a firearm? It doesn’t, and they know it.


New Jersey State Bar

Allow me to invoke the Ninth Amendment: “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” No one will argue that my right to earn a living as I choose, teaching children, is less important than anyone else’s right to own a gun, even if it is not specifically enumerated in our founding document. Yet, I would indeed lose that freedom if I refused to undergo the background check. So I acquiesce. Gun owners can do the same. They can feel the same irritation when they purchase a new rifle that I feel every five years.


Guns are not my main concern. The future of our nation is. As effective as our Constitution has been in shepherding us through two hundred and thirty tumultuous years, I confess it has seemed more hindrance than a help in recent years. As a fellow citizen remarked on a recent call-in radio show: “The Constitution is meant to guide us, not to bind us.” I would add, it is meant to empower us–empower us to solve the problems we face now, in the continually evolving present. We need to be problem solvers, not bickering antagonists. Our survival as the world’s beacon of democracy and land of opportunity comes with no guarantee. We must find a way to work together, or we will squander our heritage.

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