Friday, December 28, 2012

Good Luck With That

Demetry Smirnov apparently purchased a .40 caliber handgun from a private seller in Seattle through the website of Oklahoma-based Armslist, LLC.  While interstate arms sales are illegal, federal law does not require a background check for private gun sales, and neither does Illinois or most states.  The family of Jitka Vesel two days before the massacre in Newtown, Ct. filed against Armslist a wrongful death suit which charges

Jitka Vesel, 36, was shot 11 to 12 times by Smirnov in the parking lot of the Czechoslovak Heritage Museum in Oak Brook, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. Smirnov, a Canadian resident, had stalked her after she rebuffed his romantic overtures, according to Vesely. Smirnov, now serving a life prison sentence without parole, paid an extra $200 for the gun that had been listed for $400 because he couldn’t buy it legally.

Firearms now can be purchased over the Internet, as was the case in the brutal murder of Vesel,  or at gun shows without a background check of the purchaser   Efforts by states or the federal government to require a check of the criminal involvement or mental health of an individual buying a lethal weapon have been consistently, routinely, and vigorously opposed by the Criminal Enabler Cartel more commonly known as the National Rifle Association.

The speech by NRA Executive Vice-President Wayne LaPierre on December 21, in which he attributed the deaths resulting from shooting sprees at schools to everything but guns or bullets, is widely considered to have been a public-relations disaster. No less an expert than GOP wordmeister Frank Luntz, often considered to be a messaging genius, responded in part

I don’t think the NRA is listening.I don’t think they understand most Americans would protect the Second Amendment rights and yet agree with the idea that not every human being should own a gun, not every gun should be available at anytime, anywhere, for anyone. At gun shows, you should not be able to buy something there without any kind of check whatsoever.

Since the horror at Sandy Hook Elementary School, pro-gun Democratic and Repub legislators alike have called for a consideration of gun-control measures or at least a "conversation" and pundits everywhere have speculated that, finally, measures may be taken to combat gun violence.

If it were only so.    In a poll conducted December 19-22, "Americans" were asked by Gallup, "What is your overall opinion of the National Rifle Association, also known as the NRA- is it very favorable, mostly favorable, mostly unfavorable, or very unfavorable?"   Only seven percent offered no opinion, while 54% (21% very, 33% mostly) were generally favorable.  

That's a mere 39% looking unkindly upon an organization which supports the gun show loophole and allowing terrorists to board airplanes; and which opposes granting law enforcement the right to obtain and exchange data that helps them enforce federal, state and local gun laws; or requiring owners to report if their gun has been lost or stolen; or requiring states to share records of individuals ineligible to buy firearms because of criminal record or mental health problems.

When asked specifically about individual gun control proposals, respondents are not nearly as pro-gun.  By analogy, however, when asked about cutting Social Security benefits, the public is adamantly opposed, notwithstanding the favorable response to the more general concept of reducing "entitlements."    And the same Republican House and nominally Democratic President who are targeting Social Security will have to summon a lot of courage to offend the NRA and a public which, inexplicably or otherwise, seems to like it.

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