by Mitch Perry
On NBC's Meet The Press on Sunday, guns and gun control were the focus of the program from the jump, with gun rights supporter Ted Cruz, the freshman GOP Senator from Texas, blasting President Obama's new focus on gun violence as simply part of a "partisan agenda."
Matched up against a longtime gun-control advocate in New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer, Cruz said there was no such thing as a "gun show loophole" and said any type of gun control was in violation of the Constitution.
Schumer replied that not only is sensible gun regulation constitutional, but to oppose any attempt to reduce gun violence is "dumb."
Referring to the 2008 Supreme Court Heller ruling, Schumer said:
" Heller also said that there should be reasonable limitations, that they’re allowed reasonable limitations. I don’t think that lady needs an assault weapon. I don’t think she needs a 100-round clip. I don’t think, for instance, that those things would help her in any way. So so to say she has a right to bear arms: yes. To say, just like on the first amendment — we say you can’t scream “fire” in a crowd falsely, we have anti-pornography laws, anti-libel laws. There are reasonable limitations. And the NRA [National Rifle Association], in many instances, doesn’t believe in any limitation at all. That’s not unconstitutional. That just is dumb."
As President Obama's second term in office has officially begun, work on possible gun control measures is an obvious priority. Last Wednesday the president offered up 23 different executive actions (not orders) to combat gun violence, and there appears to be overwhelming support in polls for items like universal background checks and and a ban on large capacity ammunition magazines.
Currently, background checks for gun buyers are not the law of the land, as current federal law requires criminal background checks only for guns sold through licensed firearm dealers, which account for just 60% of all gun sales in the United States. The gun show "loophole” means that gun sales at gun shows, the Internet, newspaper ads and between individuals slip through the cracks.
Only six states in the nation have universal background checks. In Florida, the law allows individual counties to regulate gun show sales.
But on Meet The Press on Sunday, Texas freshman GOP Senator Ted Cruz perpetrated the line common among gun-rights supporters that the gun show loophole is a "myth."
"You know, there actually isn’t the so-called ‘gun show loophole. That doesn’t exist. Any licensed firearm dealer who sells at a gun show has to have a background check. It’s a requirement that applies to every licensed firearm dealer. What it doesn’t apply to is personal sales one on one. And that’s true whether it’s at a gun show or not.”
There has been a flurry of public opinion polls questioning Americans about guns in the wake of the Sandy Hook elementary gun-shooting massacre, with the results muddled, to say the least.
In the current issue of Time, a new poll shows that while there are solid majorities (in the mid 50 percent area) of Americans who believe existing gun laws are too lax and back tighter restrictions, those figures are significantly lower than when President Clinton passed the Assault Weapons Ban back in 1994, when 70 percent asked by Time believed the gun laws weren't strong enough.
In fact, the lack of tighter regulations on guns comes in only third as a reason most people give for the prevalence of gun violence.
37% cited parenting, while another 37% blamed the influence of popular culture. Just 23% of respondents in TIME’s poll called the availability of guns the primary cause of gun violence.