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Background checks

Americans who want to purchase their own firearm simply need walk into a licensed gun dealer and get one. They'll need to have a background check run on them, of course, to ensure they're not a convicted felon, mentally ill, deemed a danger to themselves or others, or in some other manner barred from being able to buy or own a gun.

No big deal. The Second Amendment allows us to carry if we'd like. The background checks simply help prevent deadly weapons from getting into the wrong hands.

Different rules apply if somebody goes online or to a gun show. In those instances, no background checks are needed. Which implies that anybody who would be prevented from buying a gun at a licensed dealer has the opportunity to bypass the commonsense system in place.

That is called a loophole. A potentially deadly one at that.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, when 20 first-graders were slaughtered, it appeared consensus was building to close such loopholes. Close to 90 percent of the American public favored such a move.

This week we discovered no such consensus exists in the U.S. Senate. Quite the opposite, in fact. No less than 46 of the 100 elected officials voted to prevent expanding background checks to include online and gun show purchases. Five Democrats joined 41 Republicans, mostly from rural parts of the country, to block the legislation. Our own Sens. Jerry Moran and Pat Roberts were amongst those unwilling to close the loophole.

If considering the images of dead and dying 6- and 7-year-olds, the opposition defies logic. The same if one looks at Aurora, Tucson, Fort Hood, Virginia Tech, or Colombine High School. Ten thousand homicides are committed each year in this country with guns.

We believe expanded background checks might help to lessen the annual carnage. Of course, we also believe limiting the number of military style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines would do the same. Most Americans share that belief.

Unfortunately, not enough senators do. Both those provisions were shot down this week in the nation's capital as well.

Why? Because the NRA promised to target any legislator voting for any of these measures.

"We are prepared for a very long war and a very expensive war," said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam.

The commitment of the National Rifle Association is steadfast. Even stronger than our elected officials' commitment to protecting the nation's citizens.

The threat of losing their seat and privileged position provided all the motivation necessary to these 46 senators to turn their back on the people.

We are saddened and outraged. Just like the NRA, we shall not forget these votes. We might not have the financial resources on our side, but we do have common sense and moral standing.

We shall see which prevails.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net