Ninety-two percent—that's the percentage of Americans who favor background checks for all gun buyers. Just try finding that level of support on any other issue! It's the kind of agreement for which the word "overwhelming" was invented.
And so. If American democracy is predicated on the idea that our leaders are selected through popular consensus of the governed, and that public opinion guides elected officials, then surely—SURELY—this data must compel all politicians everywhere to support universal background checks.
"Another lawless, unconstitutional overreach," says Carly Fiorina, beneficiary of $600,000 from the NRA.
Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Kentucky), who has received more than $25,000 from the NRA over his career, appeared to have copy-pasted some gun-lobby talking points into a statement: "disregard for the Constitution," "power grab," "shameful."
The NRA has given Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) more than $64,000 over his career. He called Obama's reaction to the slaughter of first-graders "misguided and unconstitutional."
So what exactly is Obama proposing? Must be pretty terrible to get those freedom-loving Republicans all riled up!
Well, get this: Obama wants to better enforce existing laws, and also to spend half a billion dollars on mental health care. That's it. Outrageous! Lawless! Unconstitutional!
The loopholes in background check laws are actually pretty insane: For example, if a person has something egregious in their past and can't get a gun at a store, the seller can just say, "I am not a professional gun retailer, I am a hobbyist," and then bam, they don't have to background-check anyone anymore.
Also, if you would like to get a sawed-off shotgun, no problem: Just form a corporate entity and you can buy as many as you want with no checks.
So, obviously that is not how things should work, and Obama's proposal would clarify that those sales should, in fact, be subject to background checks ... in accordance with the desires of 92 percent of Americans.
Also, Obama wants to hire 200 people to make the background checks faster. And he wants to the link mental health records to background-check data (which is already legal, and simply hasn't been done yet). And he wants to improve the database that can identify the source of bullets used for violent crimes.
And those are the measures that our Republicans in Congress, purchased and funded by the NRA, have decided are unacceptable and unconstitutional.
In case you're wondering about our own elected officials, Washington's congressional delegation has a mixed record on gun control. Patty Murray is of course wonderful on the issue, as is Maria Cantwell. Seattle Congressman Jim McDermott has taken a strong stand against the NRA.
But Senator Dan Newhouse (who represents Yakima, Denton, Douglas, and a handful of other counties in central Washington) has an "A" rating from the NRA. He got $1,000 from the NRA in the last election cycle, and $5,000 from the NRA's little brother, the National Association for Gun Rights.
Tracing the NRA cash to some of our other elected officials is a little trickier, since the organization is a little wiggly with how it spends money. But you can still find the link: Senator Jaime Herrera Beutler, for example, got $10,000 from the "Every Republican is Crucial" PAC, and gee whiz, what a coincidence, that PAC got $9,950 from the NRA.
You get the idea.
That 92 percent support is nice, but for Republicans, the money is nicer.