In 1999 a deeply divided senate passed the SB 254- the “Juvenile Crime Prevention Act” by a vote of 51:50 with Al Gore casting the deciding vote.
Among other things the bill would have mandated criminal background checks for gun purchases at gun shows and pawn shops.
While the NRA and the far right insists we have laws in place to prevent undesirables from purchasing guns, the sad truth is an estimated 40% of the guns in circulation in America where purchased through private sellers at gun shows- where no backround checks are performed.
And let’s be honest here- the so called background check is cursory at best. Only barring those convicted of a felony or who have been comitted to a mental instiution. And let’s be more homest here- convicted of a felony is hardly a reasonable line to be drawn. Come on- martha stewart and bernie madoff are a threat, while the millions who plea down charge after charge are not? The local vegan pot grower who won’t harm an animal is While the local wingnut who confronts everyone passing by his property with multiple weapons is not? …
Looking back at this piece of legislation- which died in the house, is rather enlightening.
It was sponsored by none other the conservative Utah senator Orrin Hatch.
Co-sponsored by the likes of republican stalwarts chuck Hagel, Trentt Lott, Stromm Thurmond, and John Ashcroft As well as dems Joe Biden, Patrick Leahey, and dianne feninstein among others.
So what is my point with this? (other then we are now looking at passing a law we tried to pass 15 years ago)?
Maybe that the more deeply I look into the history of gun control in the US the more I see that in my lifetime, many of the most respected of the republican party- from Ronald Reagan to Strom Thurrmond have often supported or been the leading force in gun control in america.
Republicans who have done what they were elected to do- lead. To male decisions based on their experience of this country and the world (experience that often greatly exceeds that of their constituents). To put aside party politics of the narrow minded and do what is best for the american people.
Leadership and independent thinking that is sorely lacking today.