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Editorial: NRA stance on checks halts dialogue

9:49 PM, Jan. 31, 2013  |  Comments
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The head of the nation's most powerful gun lobby group struck back this week against a proposal to mandate background checks on all gun sales.

NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told lawmakers it would be ineffective to require background checks for all gun purchases because the Obama administration isn't doing enough to enforce the law.

That reasoning is irresponsible and foolish, words that are more and more often associated with the NRA since LaPierre has taken the national stage on the issue in the wake of the shooting of 20 kids and six adults in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

We fully expected the challenges to President Barack Obama's gun-control proposal, outlined last month and based on suggestions developed by a task force on gun violence.

Blame for the nation's gun violence is scattered, depending on which party is doing the finger pointing: From violent video games to ineffective regulations, it runs the gamut.

On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee held Congress' first 2013 hearing on the issue to focus on what restrictions could be enacted this year, bringing vehement argument from both sides.

But we have yet to hear a compelling argument against requiring background checks on all gun sales, including private and gun-show sales.

The public overwhelmingly supports mandating the mandate: According to a CBS News/New York Times poll, 92 percent of Americans support those checks.

Under the proposal, transfers among family members or temporary transfers for hunting would be exempt. Federal grants of $20 million this year and $50 million next year will help ensure the National Instant Criminal Background Check System is updated and effective, under Obama's proposal.

All agree that stronger background checks are not a cure, that they're not the complete answer to a very complex problem.

But background checks at gun shows or through private sale are not an infringement on Second Amendment rights. They're not about restrictions on the right to own firearms.

They're about closing a loophole that defies logic.

The NRA needs to budge on this one if it expects to stay in the gun-rights debate with the American public. Alienating people with a hard-line stance that goes against general consensus will serve only to further widen a gap that is preventing this country from any meaningful movement forward.

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