I had the privilege of meeting Senator Marco Rubio (R-Florida) a couple of days ago. He is gracious, engaging and even more youthful in person than on TV. He has the practiced charm of a politician who can look you straight in the eye while delivering a non-answer to a simple question.
In the couple of moments I had with him, I told the Senator how disappointed I was that he had voted against the Manchin/Toomey gun safety background check amendment. The Senator’s response, delivered with a straight face, “We need to enforce the gun control laws on the books today. That will help to stop gun violence.” Huh? With all due respect, Senator, are you serious?
On an average day in America, the sort of day that does not result in a Presidential condolence call or 24 hour news coverage; the Center for Disease Control reports
- 30 gun related murders
- 162 survivable gun shot wounds and
- 53 suicides by gun
That’s about 30,000 gun related deaths a year in the United States even if there are no unthinkable large scale events like Newtown, Aurora and Tucson.
If that’s not a public health emergency, then I don’t know what is!
If there were a flu outbreak that killed a fraction of 30,000 people most Americans would clamor for the government to do something to insure public safety!
Since the December, 2012, Newtown, Connecticut, shootings every single public opinion poll shows that is exactly what the American people are clamoring for in the form of common sense gun licensing laws. They want stiffer background checks as a matter of public safety – a vaccine – if you will!
- Even 85% of NRA (National Rifle Association) members believe that stronger and broader background checks are a matter of public safety!
Current federal gun safety law relies on data provided by the states as well as federal records. An applicant must provide proof of identity, proof of American citizenship, and proof that they are at least 21 years old. The background check also verifies that the applicant has never been Takes as little as 5 minutes to complete.
But the background check only applies to federal licensed gun dealers and federal licensed internet dealers (who deliver only through the licensed dealer nearest the customer – for purposes of identification). The background check is not required at gun shows or on private sales between two unlicensed individuals over the Internet.
Manchin/Toomey proposed to strengthened the background check by including all gun show sales and all internet sales between two private individuals (ala Craigslist)
The amendment would, also, strengthen requirements on the states to provide more and more timely data to keep the federal “no sale” data base up-to-date.
There are no restrictions on – gun model or gun type or ammunition magazines. The amendment specifically forbids the federal government from establishing any sort of registry of the applicants or the results.
Senator Rubio’s staff explains his position as consistent with the phone calls and e-mails to his office – overwhelmingly opposed to the amendment. When asked, they acknowledge they never stopped counting the calls to wonder why their numbers were so inconsistent with the polling data.
Call me naive, but I assume a smart politician would want to reconcile such widely different numbers before committing. That’s what a smart business man or woman would do.
Of course, reconciling the perplexing discontinuity should have happened before he voted last week but there is still time.
Public outrage, militant advocates and the terrorizing gun battle on Boston streets will only raise the national drumbeat for sensible gun safety legislation.
Next time, instead of filling the campaign coffers in Nevada, Senator Rubio should take a listening tour through Florida!
Photo Credit: Bradford Thomas/Truth Revolt