As widespread public polling suggests, a majority of Americans support some form of increased gun control. A substantial minority would like to see it stay the same, rather than decrease. Therefore, there is strong support for some sort of gun control. While it is unfortunate that it is only after a tragedy such as the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut that strong gun-control supporters come out, it is good nonetheless that efforts are being made so that gun related tragedies will never happen again.
|UConn/Hartford Courant Poll|
The need for action seems lost upon multiple members of congress. Along with the defeat of the bill providing for background checks, there is a signature lack of urgency on the part on congressmen to do something about America's gun problem. Some members obviously believe that no problem exists. They believe strongly in the Second Amendments and contend that guns make us safer instead of harming us.
Their arguments, though don't really hold up. Few detailed and widespread studies have been completed on the effect of guns on crime. Most of what goes on in the gun control arena is mostly rhetoric, and poor rhetoric at that. The argument that the solution to criminals having guns is to arm everyone, and hope that the shootout turns out A-ok is a recipe for disaster.
There is legitimate concern of the part of gun rights activists that gun laws will not be effective at taking away guns from criminals while hurting those that want (or possibly need?) guns and a perfectly sane. However, this is the purpose of the gun control debate and the bills and their amendments going through congress. Some action needs to be taken, and it's high time to figure out if effective gun control can work on a national scale. Voting against the bills and filibustering them too only delays a productive process.
There are a lot of guns in America, and collectively, they do a lot of damage. Rather sane people can die or kill someone in accidental shootings. Many more people die in accidental gun related deaths than mass shootings or murders. With effective gun control, we can limit these from happening. Again, stopping these latest gun control bills from going through the senate stops the debate on how to save lives.
A significant problem in the gun debate in congress is the political clout of the NRA. All too often, we see that the best interests and the will of the people take second chair to the powers of special interests. In this case, the main special interest on guns is the National Rifle Association.
The NRA has huge power in congress, mostly because of the way it funds candidates for elections. These candidates rely on the NRA for financial support. The NRA is also quite powerful because of its vocality and presence in many Americans' lives. The NRA is adept politically, one of the reasons that it has been so successful at resisting further gun control. They have a rather straightforward plan and execute well, made easier by large coffers and candidates eager for their monetary and vocal support.
More detailed information on which candidates received money from the NRA can be found here. This is a link to which candidates for the House of Representatives received money. There is a tab for the Senate as well, as well as a map of the NRA's electoral impact. It is quite substantial. In the 2010 midterm elections, the NRA gave money to or endorsed candidates from every state excluding Hawaii.
Right now, the best hope for gun control legislation is if a group of citizens and private donors organize to create a powerful political organization to combat the power of the NRA. The people need to speak at the ballot box if gun control is going to become a reality. At the moment, hopes are dim that congress by itself will take any meaningful action.