A crisis is an event that is expected to lead to a ‘dangerous situation affecting an individual, group, community, or whole society’ and an epidemic is the widespread occurrence of that potential crisis. Deaths and injuries caused by gun proliferation in this country is a crisis that has reached epidemic proportions wrote President Obama yesterday in the New York Times: “A national crisis like this demands a national response.”
For years the president has attempted to get sensible gun-control legislation enacted, but has met with nothing but Republican congressional obstruction, those legislators woefully beholden to the nigh-limitless blood-money they receive from National Rifle Association (NRA). On Tuesday the president took matters into his own hands and issued a set of executive orders “to expand background checks for firearms and step up federal enforcement of the nation’s gun law…once again trying to sidestep a gridlocked Congress on a divisive issue.”
As anticipated, the Republicans were crying foul even before the president took action. However, if their goal was to persuade the American public that their rights were being taken away they “failed miserably.” CNN released a poll yesterday, which showed that:
“The American public is broadly supportive of the executive actions issued by President Barack Obama this week aimed at increasing the reach of federal background checks for gun purchases and improving enforcement of existing laws.”
According to the new CNN/ORC poll, 67% favor President Obama’s actions while only 32% oppose them. Polls have consistently showed broad based support for expanding background checks and eliminating gun-purchase loopholes. In fact, for the past several years polls have shown American public support for national background checks “ranging from 85% to 93% favoring background checks including support from 74% of National Rifle Association’s (NRA) members.” So it really should be no surprise that this poll reflects support for the president’s actions across party lines:
“designed to expand background checks to cover more gun purchases made online or at gun shows and to make it easier for the FBI to complete background checks efficiently, comes across party lines, with majorities of Democrats (85%), independents (65%) and Republicans (51%) in favor of them. Majorities back the measures across most demographic groups, in fact, including 57% of gun owners and 56% of rural residents.” In fact, the poll showed that those who strong favor the changes outnumber those opposed by more than 2-to-1.
So why do Republicans insist on obstructing an enormously popular move to do something about the ubiquitous tragedy brought about by daily killings, mass murders, and suicides which lead ”more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns” each year?
As we have noted in the past, Americans suffer from cognitive dissonance (torn between two inconsistent beliefs) on the issue of guns. The American public:
“continues to be more evenly divided in fundamental attitudes about whether it is more important to control gun ownership or to protect the right of Americans to own guns. Currently, 50% say it is more important to control gun ownership, while 47% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns.”
As a consequence of this tension there are appears to be a lack of commitment “voters like the idea of new safeguards in the abstract, but come Election Day, they have a series of priorities, and issues like background checks fade into the background.” However, gun laws need to change if we are to stop the daily slaughter of innocents in our streets, but that can only happen if the issue becomes one upon which ‘we’ willing to act – that is one upon which we are willing to vote.
President Obama continues to advocate the need for the response to gun violence idea to be a single-issue if the politics are to change – To that end, he wrote:
“Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen. I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.”
So if we wish to say no to NRA blood money bribing the Republican Party, it’s up to ‘us’, individually and collectively as voters regardless of our political persuasion, to let our politicians running for office know background checks are one of those deal-breaker issues.
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Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.