I'm a progressive, who simply can't understand why we haven't passed, can't pass common sense gun control measures such as universal background checks, a ban on semi-automatic weapons and the high velocity ammunition that goes with them.
Then there is the issue of mental health and the fact that on February 28, 2017 President Trump repealed the Obama ban on mentally ill people buying guns that was recently written into the Social Security Disability law.
The problem for me and a great many others is that neither Trump's repeal nor the extraordinarily complex wrangling over the Second Amendment, freedom and public safety are easy issues with simple solutions.
Beneath the well meaning Obama ban that came as a result of Newtown is a Duke University study of some 82,000 people with serious mental illnesses in Florida that found only minor differences between the number in the study and the general population that would use a gun to harm others or themselves. Thus the psychiatrist behind the study Professor Jeffrey Swanson says the Obama law was too restrictive on individual rights while proposing that an evidence based policy could resolve the issue.
In July 2015 the Pew Research Center did a survey finding 79% of Republicans favored background checks for gun shows and private sales while 85% of Democrats favored them. It found 79% of Republicans favored laws to prevent the mentally ill from buying guns while 81% of Democrats favored them. The study found 55% of Republicans favored a federal database to track gun sales while 85% of Democrats favored one. It found that 48% of Republicans favored a ban on assault weapons while 70% of Democrats favored it. Interestingly the survey did not poll Independents who make up roughly 40% of the total adult population.
For us liberals the Big Dog is the National Rifle Association and even though he's been gone since 2008, we remember Charlton Heston, AKA Moses standing before the assembled throng of the National Conference of the NRA in 2000 speaking these immortal words in defense of the Second Amendment:
"From these cold dead hands!"
While the NRA is still the Big Dog on Capitol Hill with its 4 million gun-carrying members it has company including a number of organizations that believe its members are wusses.
Let's begin with the National Association for Gun Rights, it's 4.5 million members and one of its tag lines; "Guns save lives." This group is deep in the weeds doing work at the state level as well as the federal level and it has a remarkable primer on its website teaching its members and anyone else willing to read how politics really works and what actually scares the heck out of politicians.
There are many more notable/notorious pro gun organizations including the Second Amendment Foundation which has a table of what it calls "Refuting statistics," that include the following statements:
"There are an estimated 65 million handguns in private circulation in the United States according to FBI statistics."
"Less than one handgun in 6500 is ever used in a homicide."
According to my inelegant math that means approximately 10,000 will be used in a homicide.
Another pro-gun group is Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership which may be best known for pushing the idea that gun control leads to totalitarianism and even genocide. It's founder, Aaron Zelman wrote a book entitled; "Death by Gun Control," and its website includes a chart showing "The Human Cost of Gun Control Ideas," relating gun laws directly to a chronological list of genocides. There are many more organizations but space and time limit a full examination. What there is is a large and multifaceted pro-gun lobby with bucks and brains and plenty of committed citizens that make up an ersatz armed militia of over 10 million members.
As for gun control advocates I begin with ex-Congresswoman, Gabby Giffords, who's life changed forever on January 8, 2011 when she was shot along with 18 others during a constituent meeting in Tucson. Six people died that day and Giffords lives with a brain injury. Giffords and her husband former astronaut Mark Kelly founded Americans For Responsible Solutions and have raised awareness and millions of dollars to broaden and strengthen the background check system, limit access of domestic abusers to firearms, stop gun trafficking and more. They have put money into political campaigns to encourage and support like minded candidates.