NRA tactics lead gun owners to think universal background checks are already law

By Stephen C. Webster
Monday, April 8, 2013 15:17 EDT
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Jeff Dillard (C) and Dr. Gary Lampert (R), co-owners of the National Armory gun store, help Richard Fuller as he shops for an AR-15 rifle on January 16, 2013 in Pompano Beach, Florida. Image AFP
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A recent poll reveals that most Americans who say no new gun laws are needed have very little clue as to what the nation’s gun laws actually are, much to the dismay of liberals pushing for sweeping reforms in the wake of the Newtown massacre.

The survey, summarized in Sunday’s New York Times by President Barack Obama’s top pollster, found that a majority of the roughly 50 percent of Americans who say no new gun laws are needed also support universal background checks and limiting magazine size — two measures that are not currently on the books.

The results additionally found that most who voiced opposition to new gun laws were also unaware that people on the nation’s terrorist watch list can still purchase firearms legally.

All respondents put together, the poll found an overwhelming majority of Americans — 90 percent — favor requiring background checks for every single gun purchased, either from a private individual or a licensed dealer. A further 59 percent favor banning assault rifles, and 50 percent said they support banning semi-automatic rifles with detachable magazines.

“This helps explain the idea behind the ubiquitous GOP talking point that we should ‘enforce existing laws before creating new ones,’” The Washington Post‘s liberal columnist Greg Sargent explained Monday. “It’s based on a gamble that many people can’t imagine that something as uncontroversial and sensible as universal background checks wouldn’t already be required.”

He added that whether reforms are passed by Congress or not depends upon Democrats being able to punish Republicans for opposing “something that literally has almost universal support.”

Obama proposed a series of gun control measures in January that include limiting magazine capacity to just 10 rounds, forcing all gun buyers to undergo background checks, expanding mental health programs for youths and banning dozens of models of assault rifles that were illegal from 1994-2004 before Republicans allowed the ban to expire.

Photo: AFP.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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