Gun lobby’s fanaticism prevails over common sense

Opinion Column

You might have thought that the mangled bodies of 20 dead children would have been enough to overcome the crazed obsessions of the gun lobby.

You might have believed that the courage and exhortations of a former congresswoman — her career cut short and her life forever changed by a would-be assassin’s bullet — would have pushed Congress to do the right thing.

You might have reasoned that polls showing overwhelming public support for a sensible gun control measure would have persuaded politicians to take a modest step toward preventing more massacres.

You would have been wrong. The U.S. Senate sent a stark message to the citizens it is elected to represent: We couldn’t care less about what you want.

Fifteen years of highly publicized mass murders carried out by madmen with firearms — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Tucson and Aurora, to name just a few — have changed nothing. Newtown, where 26 people, including 20 young children, were mowed down by a man armed with an assault-type weapon and high-capacity magazines for his ammo, provoked little more than a ripple in the corridors of Washington, where the National Rifle Association and its like-minded lobbies carried the day.

The grip that the gun lobby maintains on Congress is hard to explain. The National Rifle Association has persuaded spineless politicians that it is an omnipotent election god, able to strike down those who don’t cower before it. That’s simply not true, but even if it were, aren’t some principles worth losing elections over?

The proposal that appeared to have the best chance of passage last week was modest enough. It would simply have expanded criminal background checks to include guns sold at gun shows and via the Internet, a step supported by 90 percent of Americans, according to polls.

As its proponents conceded, it would not have stopped the Newtown atrocity. Adam Lanza took his mother’s legally purchased weapons to kill her, to carry out a massacre and to then commit suicide.

But expanded background checks would certainly save other lives, since violent husbands and other criminals have been able to saunter through huge holes in the system to purchase guns. Speaking with justifiable anger after the background-check measure went down to defeat, President Obama noted, “... if action by Congress could have saved one person, one child, a few hundred, a few thousand ... we had an obligation to try.”

In an exhaustive report last week about online purchases of firearms, The New York Times showed clearly why expanded background checks are needed. As the newspaper noted, websites for firearms function as “unregulated bazaars” where sellers offer prospective buyers the following assurance: “no questions asked.” Reporters found persons with criminal records buying and selling guns.

It is infuriating that the gun lobby defeated a proposal to rein in that dangerous commerce. And, as usual, it defended its opposition with a lie: The amendment would have led to a national registry of guns, just a slippery slope away from confiscation.

While many discussions of the gun lobby’s fanaticism include a nod to the country’s frontier origins, it’s a mistake to believe this craziness is rooted in history. The lunacy from Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association, has a more recent provenance.

When I was a child in Alabama — the daughter and niece of hunting enthusiasts — gun owners didn’t demand the right to take their weapons into church or bars or onto college campuses.

But as hunting has become less popular and as the number of households owning guns has declined, the ranks of gun owners have become over-represented by conspiracy theorists and assorted crazies and kooks. They can be easily persuaded that the government is on a mission to confiscate their firearms.

There is little doubt that paranoia is amplified by the presence of a black president, who represents the deepest fears of right-wing survivalist types. So it was probably naive to expect that he could drum up support for more reasonable gun safety measures.

But if 20 dead children can’t persuade Congress to tighten gun laws, what will?

Email Cynthia Tucker at cynthia@cynthiatucker.com.


MisterEd 2 years ago

There is little doubt that paranoia is amplified by the presence of a black president,

Atta girl, Cynthia............I was worried you might actually write an article and not play the race card. I should have known better.


Abytaxpayer 2 years ago

Cynthia great article! For the stupid mindless sheepeople. Sorry but the color of your president has nothing to do with the resistance he faced. The lack of common sense was his biggest enemy. To be so naïve to believe for one moment that a background check much less your beloved “expanded background checks” would certainly save lives is just a fairy tale. Any criminal knows he won’t pass a background check so he buys his guns from other criminals. Are you really so gullible to believe that a Whitehouse run survey of 200 people proved that 90% of all Americans want increased gun control for law abiding citizen while not addressing the mentally ill and criminals. Well then try this one. “A NEW SURVEY” shows 95% of white America is tied of the race card being used every time your president does not get his way. That is 100% true because “A New SURVEY” provided the facts. And nice going ranting about the school shooting with wrong gun information and then admitting Newtown, where 26 people, including 20 young children, were mowed down would NOT have been prevented by your presidents attempt to punish law abiding citizens…..that kind of Rhetoric is the REAL ATROCITY.


Pappa 2 years ago

Violent husbands? You must be having issues. I think you should research facts about the hunting industry before you say its less popular.


B4it 2 years ago

CT has got to be one of the most prejudiced, racist, and worst factless article contributor to this paper's editorial page. She and E J rate the lowest and should be discontinued.


Jacob 2 years ago

"The U.S. Senate sent a stark message to the citizens it is elected to represent: We couldn’t care less about what you want."

Sounds like they have learned well from your fearless leader. One word- Obamacare.


USTPC 2 years ago

Actually, the Senate vote tells me they are listening to their constituents who are against gun control that only impacts law abiding citizens. As far as the "expanded" background checks not creating a backdoor registry that is a false statement because one of the requirements was the permanent record of the transaction that had to be kept. Without that permanent record requirement a law requiring a background check on private sales is meaningless. So the slippery slope to gun confiscation was a reality in spite of what our POTUS and the liberal media said.


Dantes 2 years ago

We still live in a nation of laws, and exploiting tragedy to gain a political goal is not how it works. In addition, as even the supporters of all this legislation were forced to admit, none of it would have prevented Sandy Hook. As for criminals openly selling and receiving guns using the internet...that is already a crime. Why isn't the government cracking down on them? Are you a Second Amendment attorney? Because David Kopel and other's who analyzed the legislation concluded that the backround check did not actually prohibit a registry...it just prevented one particular government agency from instituting it. Look it up.

Finally, as a gun owner who was involved in calling my Senators, etc. I am tired of people like you essentially equating us to be terrorist baby killers. You might STFU and listen to what we have to say. Since you don't want to, there is no reason to take you seriously.


FryarTuk 2 years ago

So, again the GOP is marginalized by the right wing extremists. Former Rep. Joe Scarborough, R. FL is convinced the vote is the death knell of the GOP. He is a fairly astute political observer with strong conservative credentials who favored the passage of the legislation. Sen. McCain wants to bring it back up and Harry Reid's vote against it will allow him to return it for reconsideration. 90% of American voters favored that legislation and it has resounded in communities far and wide. When arch conservatives Pat Toomey and Joe Manchin stand shoulder to shoulder and sponsor this legislation it has to be sound. Just very unfortunate for our country.


Jacob 2 years ago

It is easier to identify you as a kook and irrelevant when you use your favorite made up term of terrorist weaponry. Don't stop now. You can be consistent, at least.


FryarTuk 1 year, 12 months ago

Had you read the article and become informed on the legislation you would have understood that it dealt with expanding criminal background checks for gun purchases. Hey, but don't let the facts get in your way of reason, you never have on any of the threads. BTW your traditional approach to sling BS doesn't work here either.


Jacob 1 year, 12 months ago

Calling that tripe that Tucker wrote an article is generous, even for a firearms fearmonger like yourself. Just forget your CNBC spoon fed rhetoric for a moment and try to think, Tuk. What possible good would it do to pass more restrictive background check laws when the current laws are universally ignored by you president's Attorney General? I read the proposed legislation in detail. It won't do a thing except provide soundbites to feed to fearful sheep like you and your ilk. If it had been in place prior to any of the mass shootings mentioned in your hero's "article" as you put it, the new law would not have prevented a single death. Here is a clue for you. There are millions of guns out there right now. Criminals will not abide by the new law. That's what criminals do, Tuk, they ignore the law.


FryarTuk 1 year, 12 months ago

What a diatribe of nonsense. To begin with it is obvious you are afraid of something. Who knows what and I certainly don't care. You can't write a comment without assailing a person of a different opinion with a barrage of personal name calling and invective. Perhaps as child you had a hard time flushing the john giving up the BM who knows. But it is obvious that from what ever brain power you possess you operate out of extreme intellectual fear.

90% of the American people disagree with you about this law and about this issue alone. If that isn't enough to persuade you to have a little latitude in your reasoning, nothing will.


USTPC 1 year, 12 months ago

90% of American people did not agree with the "universal background check" law. That is a number pulled out of the air by our POTUS and his administration. I have no doubt they have a poll that shows 90% but it was conducted using less than 2000 people and in the states of PA, CT, and NJ.

Also, ask the question "Do you support background checks?" and the answer is yes by a large majority of people. Ask the same question "Do you support background checks that keep permanent records?' and the majority of people would answer no. That was the problem with the bill. It required permanent records be kept on private transfers. That is why the bill was defeated.


Jacob 1 year, 12 months ago

Seriously? You fault me for name calling and then go to doo-doo jokes? Wow, even for you, that reaches a new level of immaturity. How old are you, 13? Let me clarify once again for you, since you can't seem to comprehend. I will type it slowly, so that you can keep up this time. There are already background check laws in place. Your president's boy, Holder, chooses not to enforce them. A new law is meaningless, in light of the fact that the old, similar law is ignored. Use your google machine and check for yourself. I'm sure you already did, and just ignore that data because it conflicts with what you are told to believe.


FryarTuk 1 year, 12 months ago

This is a nationwide poll and not limited to a particular geographic region.

CBS NEWS/NEW YORK TIMES POLL For release: Thursday, January 17, 20137:00 am ESTGun Policy: Americans overwhelmingly favor universal background checks on all potential gun buyers, one of the proposals President Barack Obama put forward as part of his plans to help curb gunviolence.92% favor background checks for all potential gun buyers, while just 7% are opposed. The poll was conducted before the President’s press conference on Wednesday.

Background Checks on All Potential Gun Buyers: Favor 92% Oppose 7.

There is support for universal background checks across political party lines, and among Americans who have a gun in their household. 85% of those living in a household with an NRA members favor background checks.

Breakdown Background Checks on All Potential Gun Buyers: Total: Favor - 92%; Oppose - 7%;

Reps: Favor - 89%; Oppose - 10%;

Dems: Favor - 93%; Oppose - 6%;

Inds: Favor - 93%; Oppose - 5%;

Gun Households - Favor - 93%; Oppose - 6%;

NRA Households- Favor - 85%; Oppose - 13%.

I attempted to copy the data but AH system wouldn't accommodate columns, etc. But you can see from this nationwide assessment that the overwhelming majority of the adult Americans want this universal background check put into place.


foopah 1 year, 12 months ago

Talk about missing facts. You can not just order a gun on the internet and have it shipped to your home. What a bunch of idiots. They have to be shipped to a licensed gun dealer, who DOES A BACKGROUND CHECK! If you go to a gun show and buy a gun, most likely you will have a background check. The only sales exempt is an individual selling to another individual. Most sales at gun shows are done by licensed dealers. So what exactly would have this bill expanded? Why can we not just use the laws on the books and have better reporting standards to NICS ? If you actually think that this bill would not have lead to an eventual national registry then you are either in on it, stupid or naive.


VSU 1 year, 12 months ago

Actually Common sense prevailed! They already have background checks in place. One question comes to mind and that is "Where is it proven that a community that has gun control is a safer place?" From what I have seen, the communities that have strict gun control is more dangerous than those that don't have gun control.


Abytaxpayer 1 year, 12 months ago

Fry you miss a couple of points.

  1. Criminals will not attempt a background check.

  2. Your beloved law would create permanent records on law abiding citizens.

  3. Your law would Not have prevented any shootings thus far.


Sherwood_Eagle_Alum 1 year, 12 months ago

  1. Based on this logic why have any laws?
  2. Replace "would" with "could."
  3. Obviously no one has any way of knowing what shoulda-coulda-woulda happened if these laws were in effect x-years ago. To say that 0 shootings would have been prevented is outright absurd.

On a separate note, I am interested to see what turns out with the Boston bombers and the types of guns they possessed and how they obtained them. How does a man on the FBI watch list get weapons that end up killing an officer and wounding another? Obviously it is still early, but I am curious to see what unfolds.


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