After the school shootings at Sandy Hook many Americans were disturbed about the violence. I was profoundly moved by an interview of one of the parents. The parent expressed dismay that instead of a thoughtful review of what happened and a move toward a solution, most who discussed the situation had an agenda being pushed.
The NRA quickly rejected any effort to strengthen policies that were designed to prevent criminals from being able to purchase guns. Gun control advocates quickly advocated confiscatory measures that had no chance for passage.
There was one area on which most seemed to agree. In some polls over 90 percent agreed that background checks should be strengthened to include firearms purchased at gun shows and over the Internet.
Two members of the U.S. Senate, one from each party, offered a bill that should have found support from gun owners who have expressed fear of a government listing of gun owners. The legislation specifically prohibited such a listing but did allow for record-keeping provisions that law enforcement officials find essential in tracking guns used in crimes.
The legislation failed because of rules that require a super majority of 60 votes. The bill was approved by a majority of 54 senators but failed.
On Friday’s MDJ editorial page Charles Krauthammer stated, “For Obama, gun control was a political disaster. He invested capital. He went on a multicity tour. He paraded grieving relatives. And got nothing.” If the polling that has been published is correct I would suggest it was not the president who suffered a defeat. It was the American public.
Yet I feel the future will make this victory by the NRA and its minions a Pyrrhic victory. Studies show while the number of firearms sold in the country is increasing the number of people who own firearms is decreasing. And something that conservatives should appreciate, gun laws at the state level are increasing the ability of state officials to take action against those who abuse restrictions on guns already in place, as California week by passing legislation which provides funding for the state to confiscate guns from those disqualified from ownership based on conviction of a violent crime, mental illness or a restraining order for domestic violence.
I suspect the numbers showing that support for background checks would be lower in this area of the country because of our gun culture. But I also suspect smart politicians who advocate background checks would receive far more support than conventional wisdom would project. I would urge our political class to produce such a politician so that we could test this proposition.