Opinion: Senate’s failure to pass background check bill is a disgrace

Kent Vashaw

Kevin Griffin

Kent VashawCNN reported this week that the Manchin-Toomey amendment to extend background checks to gun shows and Internet sales failed to pass in Congress.

This decision comes after most of Congress and the American people said they supported the amendment, according to polls.

Other gun-control amendments, such as one that would ban assault weapons, failed by an even greater margin.

CNN polls report that 86 percent of Americans favor these kinds of background checks, so how can Congress deny something that 86 percent of Americans want? There’s absolutely no reason why blocking this amendment, which could potentially prevent guns from falling into the hands of criminals, could be a good thing.

According to CNN, President Barack Obama said, “All in in all, this was a pretty shameful day in Washington,” and went on to add that the bill had been defeated by “the gun lobby and its allies.”

And indeed, the gun lobby, especially the NRA, campaigned heavily against the bill. In an advertisement, they claimed “80 percent of police say background checks will have no effect on violent crime.”

However, FactCheck reports that the survey that they cite was unscientific, self-selected and did not say anything of the sort.

The NRA reiterated its position in an official statement, stating that “as we have noted previously, expanding background checks, at gun shows or elsewhere, will not reduce violent crime or keep our kids safe in their schools.”

But according to U.S. News, 1.8 million dangerous people have been prevented from buying guns by permanent background check laws. Expanding background checks would prevent these same people from just buying their guns at a gun show or off the Internet.

Fox News reports the statement of one senator who opposed the bill. Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada said he believes the background check system needs strengthening, but that he does not want to infringe on the Second Amendment.

This amendment would not restrict anyone’s right to bear arms. The only people it can keep from buying guns are “felons and the mentally ill.”

Ultimately, this vote shows that the NRA and its allies have more clout in Congress than many Americans. Expanding background checks is the right thing to do, and we, the American people, need to make it clear that Congress serves us, not gun interests.

Vashaw, a sophomore mathematics major from Apex, is an opinion writer.