The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

The Rave

February 8, 2013

Time to get on right side of argument

We have reached a consensus about gun control in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting last December. We have talked it over for two months. We know the possibilities.

The Daily Item has received nearly four dozen letters to the editor and a handful of longer comments since Dec. 17. In online polls, either at dailyitem.com or our Facebook page, readers have responded in droves.

Broadly speaking, the viewpoints have been nearly even, half with an absolutist view of the Second Amendment, the other half in support of more control on gun violence.

An element of this discussion bridges the divide is the nearly unanimous support of universal background checks.

A poll released this week by Quinnipiac University showed "overwhelming" support for background checks on all gun buyers. It showed that 92 percent of the people polled were in favor of the checks, including 91 percent of among voters in a household with a gun. Of the 25 demographic groups Quinnipiac studied, 23 of them supported the measure at least 90 percent and the other two were at 89 percent.

The numbers are even stronger in Pennsylvania, where the Quinnipiac poll shows 95 percent of those surveyed are in favor of background checks.

In the face of those numbers, it is bewildering to learn that Congress members Lou Barletta and Tom Marino oppose background checks. They are supposed to represent the majority of their constituents. Instead, their positions reflect a small intense and shrinking, minority view held principally by paid gun lobbyists.

As the numbers show, even staunch Second Amendment adherents support background checks. Gun enthusiasts do not want guns in the hands of lunatics or criminals any more than non-gun owners. When that happens, no one can feel completely safe.

There is something to be said politicians following the courage of their convictions. There has long been an argument about whether elected officials are in office to pander to popular passions or elevate the public good through principled leadership.

On this matter, it is not possible to place representatives Marino or Barletta in either context.

An overwhelming majority of Pennsylvanians are in consensus that universal background checks would be an accepted and principled public response to the tragic slaughter of little children.

Voters should not have to drag elected representatives to what is both popular and right.

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