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5 Issues That Divide Gun Owners and NRA Leadership

The NRA’s membership agrees with most Americans that our gun laws should protect our families, not the financial interests of a clique of elites.

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Not surprisingly, while these are a big hit at NRA HQ and among those members of Congress so graced with their campaign contributions,  69% of their own members have come to the logical conclusion that this is a pretty bad idea, as have 74% of non-NRA gun owners who think there should be no barriers to information-sharing between federal agencies and police when it comes to gun crimes.

4. Reporting Lost and Stolen Guns

Supporting provisions requiring this would seem to be only common sense. But there is not much of that present among the NRA’s leadership. For example, the NRA has not only fought all efforts to make reporting lost or stolen guns to the police a requirement, but in Pennsylvania, where scores of cities and townships have picked up the slack by passing these measures themselves, the fine Americans and conservative-lawsuit-abuse haters at the NRA  have actually threatened to sue to overturn these laws. Yes, you read that correctly, our friends who love state and local rights when it comes to allowing a kid to stay on their parent's healthcare policy until they are 26, don't feel so much the same way about guns.

NRA members would seem to disagree:  78% of them think this provision would be a good idea, as do 88% of non-NRA gun owners.

5. Sharing Records With National Instant Background Check System (NICS)

The Fix Gun Checks Act, modeled on i deas developed by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, was introduced in the wake of the carnage at Tucson by, among others, Senator Chuck Schumer in March 2011. Besides closing the gun-show loophole (see #1), it also sought to fix a huge problem in the current federal background check system--a lax attitude by many states and some federal institutions in sharing records of those ineligible to buy firearms due to criminal record or mental health defects.

For example, Seung-Hui Cho, the mass murderer at Virginia Tech, had been declared mentally unfit by a judge in Virginia, and Jared Loughner had been rejected by the military for admitted drug use. Both of these men never should have been able to get anywhere near buying a gun legally. But these records were never shared.

The Fix Gun Checks Act would provide both incentives and penalties to states so that all these records are shared in as timely a manner as possible. But NRA leadership has gone to war with this bill, as with all other efforts to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally unfit. Yet,  a poll of swing-state voters taken around the time the bill was introduced showed overwhelming support for this concept among gun owners. In Indiana, Ohio, Virginia, Arizona and (most ironically, and sadly) Colorado, more than 82% of gun owners believed states should be fully funded in their efforts to share these records, while 91% supported requiring federal agencies to share information on potentially dangerous persons such as Loughner.

So there you have it. Five measures, none of which would violate the very broad reading of the Second Amendment recently given by ultra-conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia; all of which would have an immediate impact in terms of making our families safer, in a country where 34 people are murdered by guns every day--or one Virginia Tech every single day of the year. 

Cliff Schecter is a public relations strategist, author and nationally syndicated columnist. He is a consultant for Mayors Against Illegal Guns .

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