They need to get in touch with their feelings.
In a piece at the Daily Beast, Adam Winkler writes about the Manchin-Toomey bipartisan compromise on universal background checks for gun buyers that the Senate voted to begin debating.
The bill would require background checks for any sale that “occurs at a gun show or event” or “pursuant to an advertisement” on the Internet or in a publication. Yet no other private sales require a check. Transfers among family members are explicitly excluded, as are sales between friends or acquaintances.
In other words:
Manchin-Toomey doesn’t provide anything close to universal background checks.
Worse, writes Winkler, it
… plays right into the NRA’s hands. It’s an example of what gun-control advocate Dennis Henigan calls the “gun-control Catch-22.” The NRA forces lawmakers to gut a proposed law, leaving it with gaping loopholes. Then, when the law predictably fails to meaningfully reduce gun violence, the NRA cites it as evidence gun control doesn’t work.
Exactly why are gun-rights advocates opposed to exposing a wider range of prospective gun buyers to background checks? Presumably, it’s a typical preemptive move on their part to keep the gun-rights bubble inflated. Or, as John Donohue writes at CNN, gun manufacturers
… are the ones who call the shots at the NRA [(as if you didn’t know — RW], and they. … don’t want anything that interferes with total gun sales and profits.
Background checks, writes Donohue, cause
… direct loss of profit … because closing the current gaping loophole in the background check system will shut off sales to criminals and the mentally ill who are effectively free to buy all the guns they want at gun shows and through private transactions.
But, of perhaps even greater impact to gun manufacturers
… there is also an indirect loss of profit: Cutting off sales to the mentally ill and criminals will reduce crime and thereby reduce the public’s demand for guns for self-protection.
As for how the average gun owner feels about background checks, Donohue writes that a
… poll shows that the NRA has managed to convince a lot of Americans that universal background checks might lead to gun confiscation.
Bear in mind that many buy guns because they or their loved ones have met with or been threatened with violence. To them, those who would limit their access to the arms of their choice are either bleeding-heart liberals and totally devoid of credibility or they’re just plain irresponsible.
How can their logic be disputed? Realistically, people can’t be expected to compromise their ability to defend their families until the day comes that society is safe and the judicial system commits itself to, among other things, enforcing restraining orders. The obvious paradox is that without fewer and less lethal arms, a safe society remains out of reach.
But, gun manufacturers who seek to prevent a decrease in sales aside, gun-rights advocates may be motivated to opposed background checks by more than fear of future inroads into their rights, such as confiscation. While the phrase “overactive imagination” can be applied to those who fear confiscation of their guns, neither are gun-safety advocates (such as myself) immune to it.
Consider that not all martial arts students are content to confine their developing skills to the dojo. They either hope for, or actively seek out, fights to test both their skills and their courage. Even more than martial arts skills, guns — ergonomic to a fault these days — beg to be used in settings other than gun ranges and hunting. Also, gun owners wonder how they’d fare in violent television, movie, and video-games scenes.
What does that have to do with background checks? Maybe, some gun owners subconsciously seek the arming of those with criminal records and those who are mentally ill. Thus may they be provided with opportunities to act out their shooting fantasies.
However likely or unlikely that may be, longer waiting periods and criminal background checks on all sales are essential. Along with those restrictions, at Slate, Justin Peters — after pointing out how difficult it is to ban automatic and semiautomatic weapons when so many are out there — recommended restricting
… magazine capacity; … raising taxes on gun and ammunition purchases; devising better strategies to combat gun trafficking; developing guns and gun safes that can only be operated by their owners—these are substantive and sustainable reforms.
Though essential, these measure are stop-gap. Rather than take out their grievances on the rich and powerful responsible for them, too many take out their anger on their fellow citizens. The long-term solution is to decrease inequity: parents with fewer grievances then raise healthier children, who, in turn, further decrease inequity. This “virtuous circle” decreases the number of threats against which people feel the need to defend themselves against with arms.