The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

April 18, 2013

Real impact needs to come from voters

Daily Item

---- — In the grand scheme of things, what the Senate was trying to do with its most recent attempt at gun legislation was minor. No one really expected it to be the cure-all for gun violence. Most feel even if expanded background checks were already on the books they would not have prevented tragedies in Newtown or Aurora or Blacksburg.

It was the Senate's safest way to not rock the re-election boat to while saying "we did something about gun violence."

Yet the leaders in Washington could not come to an agreement on something that 9 in 10 Americans, and an even higher number of gun owners, say is warranted. How sad is that?

Earlier this week, when news of the tragic events in Boston emerged, President Barack Obama said "on days like this, there are no Republicans or Democrats -- we are Americans, united in our concern for fellow citizens." Unfortunately, those days are very limited in today's political culture.

There are very few issues in America today where nearly everyone agrees. But the background check is one. A huge majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens and they understand that the background check is about responsible gun ownership.

No one, not NRA members nor law enforcement officials nor legislative leaders, want to see guns in the hands of the wrong people. Law enforcement officials recognize the danger it creates. NRA members understand guns in the hands of those who are unqualified add fuel to the anti-gun movement when something tragic happens.

The problem is that too often we don't know who the wrong people actually are until it is way too late.

Universal background checks won't fix all the problems. But they are a necessary first step and one that the "leaders" in Washington are still unwilling to take.

So the president is now looking elsewhere for help. As he hinted at in his inauguration speech in January and has shown with his willingness to use executive orders, President Obama will attempt to circumvent Congress to get something done.

"If this Congress refuses to listen to the American people and pass common-sense gun legislation," the president said Wednesday, "then the real impact is going to come from the voters."

Votes can be rewards or punishments. For the "90 percenters" in Pennsylvania, when the time comes, remember your senators, Democrat Bob Casey and Republican Pat Toomey, voted your wishes.