To the Editor:
With the polls showing a majority – in some cases, 90 percent – of the public favoring universal background checks, how is it possible that the Senate failed to pass the proposed bill?
Is this lobby so powerful that it can stop reasonable efforts to reduce killings by guns? The vote in the Senate was 54 in favor and 46 opposed, a clear majority. Why then didn’t it pass? It failed because of an arcane rule in the Senate of the United States that allows a group of senators to filibuster a bill and block passage unless 60 vote in favor. This doesn’t appear too democratic, does it? It isn’t.
In this case, the majority of Democrats voted in favor and only four Republicans. The majority of Republicans voted no. Thus, the minority succeeded in blocking the will of the majority. The minority leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, led the charge blocking the will of the majority and public opinion.
Public opinion polls show that many Republicans and gun owners are in favor of closing the onerous holes in the present system, where background checks are required when the gun is purchased at a store but not always at other places. Purchases online and at gun shows are currently exempt from this requirement, and then there are straw purchases. A straw purchase is when someone that can’t pass the checks has another party buy it for him. This is prevalent in the slums where gang members are involved and obviously helpful to criminals with a record.
Fortunately, the struggle is not over. If we are ever able to pass common sense legislation the public needs to become more involved. Five states have enacted strong gun-control laws, and others are considering action. A clear majority of the Senate voted in favor of universal background checks. The National Rifle Association seems to assume the public outcry will die down, and it will win out. If the past is any indication, just wait until another massacre occurs. The senators who voted no are in the cross hairs, since the vote polls have clearly shown they have lost favor in their states.
The only way to change the laws is to show the politicians that the NRA has lost its power with the voters. Are congressmen and senators elected to protect the public or to uniformly block passage of any measures backed by the president?
Edward Lynd Kendall