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Protecting children from guns, the fight is not over

Marian Wright Edelman | 4/29/2013, 9:22 a.m. | Updated on 4/29/2013, 6:37 p.m.
Marian Wright Edelman

(NNPA) – The United States Senate’s failure to pass common sense gun safety measures – the Manchin-Toomey Amendment to expand background checks to keep guns away from underage or dangerous people, and amendments to ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines designed only to kill as many human beings as possible ‒ is a moral failure of great magnitude. Once again, the safety of children has been sacrificed by political leaders in service to the gun lobby. As Americans, do we value guns more than the lives of children? Do we really want to continue to have political leaders who kowtow to the threats and money and half-truths of the gun lobby, and who think their political jobs are more important than the right of children to live and learn and grow up in safety?

The fight to protect children, not guns, is not over because: Ninety percent of Americans want a universal background check. This includes 94 percent of North Dakota voters, 89 percent of Indiana voters, 89 percent of New Hampshire voters, 84 percent of Arkansas voters, and 79 percent of Montana voters ‒ all states where at least one senator went against the will of their constituents and of the American people. Getting 90 percent of Americans to agree on anything is extremely difficult.

No one elected the National Rifle Association to be in charge of our children’s and our nation’s safety. We have elected federal, state and local governments, a national defense department, and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to perform this crucial function. The NRA represents less than 10 percent of gun owners and is a minority view. Their stance against universal background checks defies not only 90 percent of all Americans, but 88 percent of those with a gun in the household and 74 percent of the NRA’s own membership. The NRA claims up to 5 million members but there are many more Americans who are not NRA members. We must lift our voices and use our votes to protect children over guns.

Lies and misinformation must not rule the day in a democratic society. The NRA claimed that the Manchin-Toomey Amendment would prevent people from transferring guns to relatives and lead to a gun registry. Neither is true. As co-sponsor Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., an “A” rated NRA member, said: “That is simply a lie … You can loan your hunting rifle to your buddy without any new restrictions … You can give or sell a gun to your brother or your sister, your cousin, your uncle, your co-worker without a background check. You can post a gun for sale on the cork bulletin board at your workplace or on your church bulletin board without a background check.”

Manchin also said, “[Anybody] that has read that bill that would think that would allow or entice the government to begin a registry is misleading and lying.” The NRA may have won the first round by spreading lies and confusion, but they must not and will not win in the end. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said: “However difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because ‘truth crushed to earth will rise again.’ How long? Not long, because ‘no lie can live forever.’”