“Legislation to strengthen or enact background checks is pending in 17 states,” the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence reported in its Feb. 4 Gun Law Trendwatch newsletter. The measures are among at least 50 pieces of gun safety legislation the center is currently tracking in statehouses across the country. And those are on the heels of dozens of gun safety bills that have been enacted in states in the past year, which is to say since Parkland.
Nevada’s law to apply background checks to private gun sales was passed by voters in 2016, before Parkland, before Sutherland Springs, before Pittsburgh, and before the mass shooting from a window at Mandalay Bay, but after Sandy Hook, Orlando, San Bernardino and too many others.
Deliberately and zealously stifled by a politically ambitious former attorney general, Nevada’s voter approved background check law was never implemented, prompting the legislation that was approved by a state Senate committee in Carson City Tuesday.
In the 2018 election cycle, virtually every Democratic candidate in Nevada, like the vast majority of Democratic candidates nationwide, campaigned on stronger gun safety laws.
That would have been unimaginable even a decade ago. But politicians, who tend to follow public opinion rather than lead it, finally caught up with public’s long-held and, of late, quickly strengthening support for measures to curb gun violence in a country more awash in guns than any other developed nation.
There are an estimated 393 million civilian-owned guns in the U.S., more than half of all the civilian-owned guns in the world. The gun lobby’s front line soldiers who railed against background checks in Carson City Tuesday are right about one thing: expanding background checks is not going to end gun violence in the U.S. Background checks, banning bump stocks, outlawing sales of semi-automatics or other regulatory measures aren’t going to change the fact that in the U.S. there are already more guns than people.
What may ultimately end, or at least severely curb, rampant gun violence in the U.S. is a change in the country’s gun culture — a change that will facilitate developments like a Australian-style gun bans and buybacks. And ultimately, at some point, the nation is going to have acknowledge that the Second Amendment is an 18th century relic, the meaning of which has been egregiously abused by the public, and the intention of which has been shamelessly bastardized by the U.S. Supreme Court.
None of that’s going to happen soon. In the meantime, state, local and federal governments have to pass what they can, when they can, to limit and reduce gun ownership in the U.S., and at least try to prevent as many gun deaths as possible.