NRA’s Worst Fear: Bipartisan Agreement On Universal Background Checks Reached

Sen. Manchin (D) and Sen. Toomey (R) courtesy Business Insider

Sen. Manchin (D) and Sen. Toomey (R) courtesy Business Insider

In a blow to the NRA’s ambition to arm every man, woman and child in America, a deal has emerged from the historic gridlock in Congress to expand background checks to the Holy Grail of gun control advocates: gun shows and online sales.

Via the New York Times:

Under the terms of the agreement, background checks for gun buyers would expand to gun shows and online sales — a huge portion of gun sales that are made without the background checks used by gun stores — and will maintain record-keeping provisions that law enforcement officials find essential in tracking criminal gun use, but that gun rights groups find anathema.

The bill would modify the current measure, which will receive a procedural vote on Thursday, in other key ways. For example, the background checks provision would extend to fewer gun buyers than many gun control groups, and some Democrats in the Senate, would like. Sales between family members, for instance, would be exempt.


So far, 13 Senators, lead by that most reasonable of men, Rand Paul, have vowed to filibuster the bill from even coming to the floor for debate. This is a clear signal that the gun lobby and their pet Senators are deeply concerned about the “Connecticut Effect.”  Specifically, they’re concerned that it’s not going away. While the public has moved on for the most part, an uncomfortable amount of pressure is still on anti-gun control legislators. The fact that 90% of the country supports universal background checks, including 80% of Republicans, means that the more it’s discussed, the more likely it is that it will pass.

Even Republican lawmakers are questioning the move to filibuster. This past Sunday on Face The Nation, Sen. John McCain tore into Paul and his conspirators:

“What are we afraid of?” he asked. “Why would we not want, if this issue is as important as all of us think it is, why not take it on the world’s greatest deliberative—that’s the greatest exaggeration in history, by the way—but, you know, why not take it up an amendment and debate? The American people will profit from it. I do not understand why United States senators want to block debate when the leader has said that we can have amendments.”

There actually is a simple explanation for Paul’s actions: the majority of Americans do not realize that universal background checks are not already the law of the land. Poll after poll confirms this and it beggars the imagination that we would allow people to purchase an assault rifle and unlimited rounds of ammunition without even a cursory check to see if they might pose a threat to public safety. The NRA fears, and correctly so, that if the public found out that we don’t have even this most basic protection, they would roast alive any politician that votes against it. A key component of the gun industry’s massive profits is an uneducated populace. The second they realize just how unsafe the industry and its puppet, the NRA, has made the country, those profits evaporate under a tsunami of common sense protections that would do nothing to stop the average person from legally buying a gun but would certainly put a huge crimp in the atmosphere of borderline terror the gun manufacturers rely on to drive sales.

If Paul allows the debate to even begin, the chances of people discovering the truth becomes unacceptably high. Even when the bill inevitably dies in the Tea Party controlled house, the damage will be done. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said he send the bill to the floor for debate on Thursday. Now we wait and see if the NRA can bribe or frighten enough Senators to block it.

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