By Michael Bryan
Let me preface this post by stating a few facts: I am a gun owner, I am a sportsman (though much more so when I was younger, than now), I had a concealed carry permit (when such a thing was still required in AZ), and I am a prosecutor who has seen first-hand the tragic results of guns in the wrong hands.
The growing epidemic of mass shootings in this country now stands at 62 incidents since 1982, according to a Mother Jones magazine investigation. The nexus between gun laws becoming ever-more lax and poor mental health care and invervention has been and remains a major public safety issue in this country.
Yet Congress has done almost nothing to address the very real and present danger to public safety posed by the combination of madness and easily available weapons designed to kill many people very quickly.
Our political system has become so dysfunctional that even a problem that is murdering innocents on a regular basis cannot seem to be addressed. Our policy-making systems are so captured by special interests, so riven by ideological extremism, and so paralyzed by an unconstitutional and anti-democratic super-majority requirement in the Senate, that it seems naive to even hope that our leaders can propose and pass reasonable policies to slow the carnage.
Perhaps most damning is that overwhelming majorities support such reasonable policies – even majorities of gun owners and NRA members!
Recent polling by Frank Luntz of gun owners, over half of whom are NRA members, indicate that large majorities support sensible gun laws, and that the extreme posititons taken by the gun lobby do not reflect the views of American gun owners:
- 87 percent of NRA members agree that support for 2nd Amendment rights goes hand-in-hand with keeping guns out of the hands of criminals.
- 74% support for criminal background checks
- 71% support barring people on terror watch lists from buying guns
- 65% would require gun owners to alert police to lost and stolen guns
In the wider population, support for sensible gun laws is even broader and stronger:
- 57% support renewing the assault weapon ban on semi-automatic weapons
- 60% support restrictions on high-capacity clips
- 91% support keeping guns out of the hands of mentally disturbed people
- 76% support gun registration requirements
Given the wide majorities in favor of reasonable regualtion that could help stem the tide of violence, it hardly takes political courage to advocate for such policies: it only takes motivation and determination. Given the distance between real American people and gun-owners, and the zealots driving this debate in the GOP, these policies could even be a winning wedge issue for Democrats.
That's why we are asking Ron Barber to lead the charge to enact some of these common-sense and popular policies. Join us in asking Ron to turn his personal history to the task of making our communities safer and saner.