For three years, this nation has been stuck in its opinions. In spite of all the recent mass shootings–Tucson, Arizona; Aurora, Colorado; Oak Creek, Wisconsin–we’re still evenly split over whether to enact new laws that would limit, or even ban, gun ownership. The numbers have been consistent since 2009. Before that point, a majority of Americans wanted more restrictions. Ironically, that’s no longer the case.
Still, a new CNN poll–taken after the Sikh temple shooting–shows nearly unanimous agreement among Americans on a couple of common sense limitations. Fully 96% of us favor background checks, and 91% believe the law should keep convicted felons or people with mental health problems from obtaining guns.
The 1993 Brady Act required that licensed gun stores run a background check before every purchase and that a number of people, including felons and the mentally ill, were ineligible to buy guns. The fly in the ointment is that online sales, gun shows, flea market sales, or any other private sales do not have to meet this requirement. This makes no sense. It is illegal to sell a gun to anyone the seller knows is ineligible–with the ‘knows’ part of that statement being the hitch. How can the seller ‘know’ the status of a buyer without a background check?
Some states have tried to remedy this loophole with their own laws, but the result is a patchwork of legislation. For example, 33 states do not require background checks for transactions made at gun shows. In Florida, such requirements exist, but not statewide; the law varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Obviously, an ineligible person–a convicted felon, a fugitive from the law, or someone who had been diagnosed with mental illness–could simply visit a gun show in the next county or state in order to obtain a weapon.
It shouldn’t be a problem to pass a federal law, requiring background checks for all private gun purchases, when nearly the entire American population supports such a move. So, if the naysayers are only 4 to 9 percent, where’s the stumbling block?
Never mind. I’ll spell it out for you: N-R-A and C-O-N-G-R-E-S-S. The point is, the rest of us make up 91-96 percent of voters. And we agree. Shouldn’t we be setting someone’s hair on fire over this?