Vote against gun control will backfire

A country controlled by special interest groups will often pass legislation that serves the few at the expense of many. The House of Representatives’ refusal to pass stricter gun control last week demonstrated once again the immense power that the National Rifle Association holds over our legislators. The defeat is in opposition to the beliefs of most Americans and does little to defend the Second Amendment.
The bill was not unreasonable, calling for child safety locks on newly manufactured revolvers and background checks for purchases made at gun shows. Neither of these restrictions would inhibit the average citizen from purchasing a gun.
When the Senate voted on a similar bill a few weeks ago, the vote was extremely close — a 50-50 tie, broken by Vice President Gore’s vote in favor. Not surprisingly, the vote was divided almost entirely by party lines, with Republicans opposing the measures and Democrats supporting them. Members of the House behaved similarly. When the bill failed 280-147, the opposition was mainly composed of Republican members.
The House’s strong defeat of the bill bears little resemblance to the stance of the average American. After the shootings at Columbine High School, polls show more than 80 percent of Americans favor stricter gun control. The blatant disregard of public opinion may end up backfiring in 2000. The majority in the House hangs on a mere six seats, and the presidential election will likely be influenced by the issue of gun control.
While GOP members have suggested that the measures would interfere with the constitutional right to bear arms, this claim is greatly exaggerated. Requiring background checks at gun shows would prevent former criminals from acquiring guns. It would not prevent the average citizen from purchasing a firearm. While it is possible that a slow modem or a broken computer might cause an individual a 24-hour wait, this type of restriction is entirely justified.
Opposition to child safety locks on guns is even more appalling. The measure would have likely saved children’s lives, but it would in no way have prevented an adult from owning and using a gun. Suggesting that a measure to ensure child safety violates the Second Amendment is simply ridiculous. Having safety devices on medicine bottles does not prevent adults from taking medicine, it simply protects young children from eating substances that could be dangerous.
As long as the Second Amendment is part of the Constitution, it is appropriate for Congress to be concerned about passing legislation that would infringe upon the rights that it guarantees. However, this concern can go much too far, which is evident when Congress refuses to pass legislation that would enhance the safety of Americans at no cost to our right to bear arms. The House’s failure to pass reasonable gun control measures is a tragedy. It goes against the views of the vast majority of Americans, endangers children’s lives and preserves a loophole for criminals.