Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Five Gun Safety Laws That Gun Owners Support

Vice President Joe Biden is slated to deliver his suggestions for a series of gun violence prevention measures to the President today. Most likely, stronger gun regulations will be among the measures Biden proposes. And while the gun lobby may argue that such laws are out of step with the opinions of gun owners, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll shows that people who have a firearm in their home actually support a lot of gun safety measures.

Here are the top five gun laws that most gun owners would like to see:

1. Universal background checks. The poll found that a huge majority of gun owners — 86 percent — would like to see every single person who wants to purchase a firearm go through a background check. Currently, the so-called ‘gun show loophole’ allows some purchasers (those who buy used guns and those who buy at gun shows) to forgo a background check, setting up a system where criminals can easily purchase weapons.

2. Background checks for ammunition purchasing. As the law currently stands, ammunition can be purchased in bulk online with absolutely no background check. This is how mass murderer James Holmes was able to stockpile so much ammunition without anyone noticing. Seventy six percent of gun owners surveyed by the Washington Post want to see this law changed by instituting background checks for buying ammunition.

3. Ban on extended magazines. Extended magazine clips have been a focus of the recent gun law debate. Such clips, when used in mass killings, prove exceptionally deadly since, paired with an assault weapon, the gunman rarely has to stop and reload. Adam Lanza, the gunman responsible for the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, used extended clips, as did Holmes. There’s no reason why a clip with more than is necessary to hunt, or for self protection, and 55 percent of gun owners want to see them outlawed.

4. Gun database. The United States already has a database of those who cannot buy guns — the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, NICS — but has much weaker methods of tracking the guns sold in the United States. Sixty two percent of gun owners like the idea of a database of guns purchases, so that the government has some handle on how many guns are out there. There have been reports that such a database, and a database of gun violence, might be among Biden’s suggestions.

5. Assault weapons ban. There’s not quite a majority of gun owners who support an assault weapons ban, but at 45 percent popularity, it’s close to tied between those who support and those who oppose. An assault weapons ban would block military-grade weapons, like those used by Lanza and Holmes, from sale on the public market. There’s evidence that such bans reduce the number of firearms deaths.

The support for each of these measures demonstrates that the gun lobby is out of step with everyday gun owners. NRA representatives insist that Congress won’t pass ammunition clip bans, for example, and say that background checks are “unnecessary” and expensive. But even NRA members support more regulations on guns than the lobby would like to indicate.

And members of Congress will soon have an opportunity to stand with the gun owners who support these stronger gun laws. Eight bills have already been introduced in the House that deal with these issues, and more are likely to be introduced after Biden presents the findings of his task force to President Obama.

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