“Tim Kaine has a backbone of steel — just ask the NRA,” said Hillary Clinton in introducing her vice presidential pick in Florida on July 23. It was her first moment in the spotlight since the Republican National Convention, and we’re encouraged that she used part of it to focus on gun control.
In addition to Clinton’s remarks, there was more good news for gun-control advocates. A new Associated Press-GfK poll found support for restrictions on gun ownership now stands at a two-thirds majority — the highest level since the poll started asking the question in 2013.
Majorities favor nationwide bans on semi-automatic assault weapons and high-capacity magazines holding 10 or more bullets. Strong majorities from both parties said they support background checks for people buying firearms at gun shows and through private sales.
In addition, Americans back the common-sense banning of gun sales to people on the federal terrorist watch list.
By a 55 percent to 43 percent margin, respondents said laws limiting gun ownership do not infringe on the Second Amendment. But the poll also found widespread pessimism that elected officials will act. It’s incumbent on Clinton and other Democrats running for office in November to prove the public wrong. They must stand up forcefully and shut down the NRA’s propaganda machine.
The biggest lie of that machine? The NRA maintains that more guns make people safer. The opposite is true. Americans own virtually one gun for every man, woman and child in the country, far more per capita than any other nation in the “developed” world. Not surprisingly, Americans are 10 times likelier to be killed by firearms than citizens of any other developed nation, according to a study that appeared in the American Journal of Medicine.
Recent gun-violence cases further expose the NRA’s big lie. When a sniper opened fire on Dallas police officers in July, their guns did nothing to protect them. And how many more casualties would there have been if everyone in the crowd had been armed to the hilt and shooting at an assailant who was not even visible?
Similarly, a gunman managed to kill three Baton Rouge police officers and wound three others, despite the fact that his victims were both armed and trained to use their weapons.
And in Orlando, an armed security guard was working at the Pulse nightclub when 49 customers were killed. The guard exchanged fire with the attacker, but to no avail. And officials said that more firearms in the nightclub would have resulted in more innocent deaths during the hysterical melee the first shootings triggered.
In all of those cases, the attackers had the twin advantages of surprise and powerful weaponry. We can’t stop the former, but we can curb the latter with sensible gun restrictions.
We’re finally in a place where Americans seem fed up with the nation’s gun obsession. We have a Democratic presidential candidate who plans to challenge the NRA from the top of the ticket, but it’s up to voters to put pressure on state and local officials.
Let them know that in order to earn your vote, they must support sensible gun control.
Together, let’s envision a nation where we don’t awake every morning to headlines of another slaughter, where we don’t live every day with the fear that we — or someone we love — will be next. Then take that vision to the ballot box this fall.