Senate, lobbyists gun down the will of the majority

April 17, in an emotionally charged day in Washington, D.C., the Senate turned down some hotly debated bills regarding gun control. Among the big prizes for gun control advocates included an automatic weapons ban and more rigorous background checks for gun buyers.

David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

David Delgado/The Daily Cougar

According to a Washington Post-ABC News national poll in March, 57 percent supported an automatic weapons ban and was turned down. Frustrating as it is, one could understand why it may fail when the full brunt of those lobbying rock stars, the National Rifle Association, floods Congress with dollars and loads up on advertisements to combat the change. A far more frustrating defeat, however, is the fall of a bill requiring extensive background checks.

The background check bill failed despite being supported by almost 90 percent of Americans in a recent poll. With majority support across the ideological spectrum, there is no reason not to pass tougher standards for background checks. When polled about their reaction to the Senate’s failure in the same poll, 60 percent were either disappointed or angry about the bill’s failure in contrast to the 23 percent who said that they were relieved or excited.

In a country where a majority of Americans want tougher gun laws, the Senate, namely Senate Republicans and a few “red state” Democrats, reject the will of the majority yet, less than a quarter polled are happy about this.

Patricia Maisch, a good Samaritan who knocked an ammunition magazine from the hands of the Jared Lee Loughner, was unhappy about the decision and had to be escorted off of the premises.

“They are an embarrassment to this country — that they don’t have any compassion or care for people who have been taken brutally from their families. I hate them,” Maisch said.

According to a Huffington Post YouGov poll released Friday, 90 percent of those indentifying themselves as Democrat, 64 percent as Independent and 60 percent as Republican favor a bill requiring background checks for all store and online gun purchases. Yet, the bill was all but dead on arrival when it hit the Senate floor for a vote — and for more than just constitutional beliefs.

Grace Wyler of said the upcoming 2014 midterm elections were partially to blame, pointing out that three of the four Democrats who voted against the background check bill were up for re-election in pro-gun states that voted against President Barack Obama in 2012 and that the states that they represent — Alaska, Montana and Arkansas — have over half of their population owning at least one gun.

The members of the NRA are very passionate about protecting their gun rights, and their passion has a strong impact.

According to an April 14 Washington Post-ABC News poll, 18 percent of gun owners contact their representative to express their views on gun control, as compared to 10 percent of non-owners. Seventeen percent of gun owners give money to an organization lobbying on the issue compared to four percent of non-gun owners. On the other hand, 40 percent of gun activists said they wouldn’t vote for a politician who disagreed with their views on guns compared to over 75 percent of non-gun activists.

The notion that the will of the people could be compromised in such a fashion by lobbyists and senators is discouraging. However, there is a lesson to be learned from the passion of the NRA and its members that a lot of Americans haven’t figured out.

If you are passionate enough about a certain legislation, can afford to lobby and if you attack your opponents in the media, you too can hire the Senate and the House of Representatives to help your cause.

The NRA is organized and knows how to make things happen in legislation. If non-gun activists want stricter gun laws and their voices heard, it’s up to them to rally together against the NRA and make it difficult for legislators to say “no.”

“There needs to be a lobby to fight the NRA,” UH alumnus Marcos Rios said. “A big lobby, if they (want) something to happen.”

If gun control activists were as materially passionate as gun activists, the pressure on the Senate would be so great that it would have to come to some sort of compromise to get something passed — for better or worse.

Despite the majority being for the bill, there are still valid arguments against it.

Ed Krystaponis, an undeclared junior, said that while there is nothing wrong with background checks, the law wouldn’t have been air tight and there would still be ways to be beat the checks.

“The background checks aren’t a bad thing,” Krystaponis said.

“The only issue that I have with it is where is it going to stop. I’m not saying that your background or my background shouldn’t be checked, but if I wanted to hand the gun down to my heirs, should I not be able to do that?”

Krystaponis also said that, despite the law, if a criminal who shouldn’t have a gun wants one bad enough, a law isn’t going to stop them.

“Bad guys don’t care about the law. That’s why they are bad guys. It doesn’t matter if (they) are banned. It’s not gonna matter,” Krystaponis said.

Regardless, it seems that the will of the majority wasn’t carried out. For some, this is discouraging and exposes potential inadequacies in the legislative system. For others, it hopefully serves as a wake-up call; if people don’t take action, then Congress has no reason to change.

Jacob Patterson is a management information systems senior and may be reached at [email protected].


  • It’s easy to blame the NRA for the lobbying they do to protect our second amendment rights. But how much further of a background check do these people who are polled want? They apparently either don’t have a firearm or have just had a negative experience. But you can not buy a firearm now with going through an NCIS background check as it is, and all it takes is for your social security number, or name, or date of birth to match someone else and they flag you and you then have a 3 day waiting period so the government can do a further background check to ensure your not a criminal. And I agree, if this more extensive background check passes, what’s to stop them from passing more laws that only further restrict our 2nd amendment right and or striping that right from Americans altogether? As for background checks for automatic weapons, those are much more difficult to obtain legally than a semi automatic firearm. In order for someone to legally purchase an automatic firearm, the background check on that is already very extensive. The purchaser would have to fill out a special NFA form and pay an additional $200 fee on top of the cost of the firearm (which for those that are unaware, an automatic firearm can cost around $4000 at the low end on up to as much as $20,000 or more). Then this form is sent to the ATF, FBI, local and state law enforcement agencies for each to do a background check not just on some signed paper, but with finger prints and photos. This process takes from 4-6 months if not longer. The other issue is, compare the sale of automatic weapons to semi automatic weapons and you will find a very large gap of people who can afford an automatic weapon. So for that to be brought up and fought about apparently have no idea what it already takes to legally obtain an automatic weapons. I also agree that even with the Clinton Assault Weapons ban, that did little to stop the criminals from getting any weapon they want. So for the small portion of idiots that decide to walk into schools and take innocent lives, then we should punish the entire population with laws that will restrict law abiding citizens? And those who want to limit the amount of rounds a magazine can hold are just plain clueless. I have learned some techniques of shooting from some of the top FBI trainers and the truth is it really makes no difference if I have a firearm with only 10 rounds and someone has one with 30 rounds, all marksman will tell you, you can have 100 rounds but if you can not hit your target then it makes no difference on the number of rounds in the magazine. The people who go and shoot up schools and offices don’t do it because they have a firearm, they do it because they are mentally unstable. Take the kid who went into that elementary school for instance. You think he was your average American? No, because the average American that have a firearm will not kill their parents and then go to an elementary school and just start shooting. My heart goes out to every one of those that lost loved one that day but all people see is the negative. Had that kid been a better shot think of the amount of casualties there would have been. He went through more than one 30 round magazine but no one is saying anything about how many shots missed the potential target. But now your President (I didn’t vote for him) is pushing for this stricter laws because of this shooting. Yet Obama has allowed Eric Holder to sell firearms to the cartels across the border and no one has mentioned that. And to add salt to the wound Eric Holder was held in contempt in court and should be in jail, yet he is flying all across the U.S. and even given a promotion. Also he was given special Presidential immunity but only on one count. The people in the government that should have him arrested have not done their job because they have been told not to. Yet if you or I were to be held on contempt in court we would not leave the courtroom, we would be arrested on the spot and put in jail. So if you really want to blame the NRA for this bill not passing, then you should do more research and not just from The Post which has favored the Democratic Party, but from all sides. Also, as you stated, or rather contradicted yourself, some of these Democratic’s voted against this law because they are up for re-election in their respective states which are pro-gun. So to point the finger only at the NRA when you have gun owners callings their state reps who are not NRA members is just trying to put the blame on an organization that is trying to protect our 2nd amendment right given to all Americans by our forefathers. Passing the blame like that is all Obama did his first term, yet he shoved healthcare that the majority voted against and he pushed it on Americans regardless. So yes we agree on one thing, there is something wrong with the system and it starts at the top. But everyone has their own opinion, for now. I would not be surprised if the government tries to take that from us as well.

  • Hm. On the one hand, we’re arguing that the Senate did not channel the “will of the people,” while on another we’re saying they voted the way they did because they have to worry about getting re-elected. Experiencing any cognitive dissonance lately? That’s the way the Senate is supposed to work; it is supposed to be the slightly less (absolute) democratic house of Congress. As an aside, I see there was no mention in this article about the 90+% of LEOs who say an expansion of background checks would have little-to-no effect on gun violence, or that the previous national assault weapons ban had absolutely ZERO effect on curbing violence with assault weapons. Maybe we should worry about enforcing existing laws first, and keeping our own government from running assault weapons to drug cartels, before we go suggesting new legsilation- legislation that does, in fact, infringe on the rights of many Americans. M’kay?

  • “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” B. Disraeli/M. Twain

    Maybe the author should re-take the (2) required Govt course on how our system works, incl. why our system ensures the rights of the minority aren’t trounced by the majority, and the Constitution.

    But that’s not why I’m commenting. IMO the most important reason why the (so called) majority should not prevail in this case is that the vast population is ignorant on gun laws and guns in general. They are deliberately being misinformed/manipulated by the media (incl the Daily Coog) and politicians all the way up to the President of the U.S.

    THAT should concern you more than any opinion you have on gun control.

    For example, and to quote from this piece:

    “57 percent supported an automatic weapons ban and was turned down.” I understand your frustration. Mainly because automatic weapons have already been essentially BANNED since before most of the students at UH were born. I’d be frustrated too if they didn’t ban something that’s already banned. See “ignorant masses,” and “FOPA 1986.”

    “The background check bill failed despite being supported by almost 90 percent of Americans in a recent poll.” True, the recent poll showed this, (not mentioned is that 74% of NRA members also agree, but that info would negate the evil stigma put on NRA members) What the poll doesn’t ask is how many people (incl the author) know what the current background check laws are (Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act), and what effect the proposed changes would have had to prevent any of the recent mass shootings (none). See above re. lies and statistics, and “ignorant masses.”

    “According to a Huffington Post YouGov poll … 90 percent of those indentifying themselves as Democrat, 64 percent as Independent and 60 percent as Republican favor a bill requiring background checks for all store and online gun purchases.” This quote/poll should tell you that the same percentage of people have no clue on what the current law is. Once again, it is illegal to purchase a handgun from a “store” or “online” without going thru a Federal background check. See “ignorant masses,” and “Brady Law” above.

    “There needs to be a lobby to fight the NRA,” UH alumnus Marcos Rios said” There is. Brady Campaign, Coalition to Stop Gun Violence, Mayors Against Illegal Guns (Million$$ spent by NY Mayor Bloomberg), The Joyce Foundation, Center for American Progress, etc, etc, etc,

    And the granddaddy of all misleading statistical quotes, repeated over and over, including by the highest office in the U.S. (Obama), but surprisingly not in this opinion piece:

    “40% of guns are sold without a background check.”

    This is the main stat used for stricter background checks. Well, the truth behind this stat is that the survey was conducted in 1994 (!) before our current background check laws were in place. In addition, it is based on ONLY 251 responses out of 2,500 households surveyed. And the real percentage was 14-22%. So, the discussion’s being driven by the results of a 20 year old survey, conducted before our current laws were in place, based on responses from only 251 people, and is being quoted incorrectly (40% instead of 14-22%).

    Wake up people, and be thankful we are not under the control of the misinformed and manipulated majority.

  • It’s interesting to see the comments. Most of which are reactionary and ill informed. I was hoping to see in the article some mention of the history of the NRA and its rise to fame. None. That’s too bad because any informed brief sketch of this activist group would show how, with money and support, it has scared Americans to death with propaganda, as is it purpose. Twenty years ago, nobody cared or knew of the NRA; Nowadays, we see them as a powerful and influential lobby and their idiotic rhetoric about 2nd amendment rights protection being spewed by the most peripheral observers — and even college students. How did that happen? Do your homework. This is not a group who cares about your rights; this is a group who cares about its own success. The problem is, its definition of success would have us all situated in some wacky 19th-century version of the wild-wild-west where we are all armed to the teeth and damn anyone who crosses that indivisible line of our “constitutionally protected” right to freedom and the pursuit of happiness. Their idea of freedom, in other words, is a recipe for mass societal paranoia., Freedom my ass. That’s anarchy.

    • It’s not about the NRA. If you think it is, then IMO you’ve just been manipulated by the media and politicians who try to divert the discussion from the facts to some “evil” lobbying group “covered in children’s blood.”

      Please elaborate on what in my original post is “ill informed.” If you’re going to make such a statement I’m interested in having a discussion.

      • Max if your going to say statistics are a form a lie, you shouldn’t use them to support an argument. Its makes you look like a hypocrite. Second, do some research in the history of NRA from its begining to its current influence in political circles; pay close attention to who their target audience is in their various pro-gun campaigns; especially notice how they play on a sense of patriotism and instill fear. Pick up some copies of gun magazines and see the sort of thinking that goes on in them; visit some gun conventions and pay attention to how the sales pitches work and who they are pitching to and why; look at some legislators and who supports them in their pro-gun stance and how those elected officials re-pay that support. And visa versa. Look at the link that has developed between Evangelical Christians and pro-gun rhetoric. How did that link develop? Get a grip. if you don’t think the NRA is part of a well-oiled pro-gun industry with an army of lobbyists doing its bidding in D.C and around the country. you are very naive. The NRA is all about selling guns. It is the political mouthpiece for gun manufacturers who would just as soon have a gun in the hands of every American, no matter the consequences. But you have to get the customers on board ; to have a reason to buy one; fear and lots of patriotic rhetoric can help supply that reason.

Leave a Comment