At some point when the corpses of constituents stack up so high, it’s incumbent upon even those leaders most resistant to action to finally acknowledge their duty to protect the public at large and defy self-serving special-interest groups that have given generously to their election. And when they do so, those of us in the great mainstream of American life should encourage them. Today we applaud Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s resolve to close loopholes that allow strangers to sell guns to strangers without so much as a proper background check.
In a Friday interview with the Dallas Morning News in the wake of two more deadly shooting rampages in Texas, Patrick said he wants to continue protecting transfer of firearms among family members without background checks, perhaps even friend-to-friend gun transfers dependent on how state senators feel when they next report for duty. But he said the time has come for the Texas Legislature to step up and demand more comprehensive background checks, even as the federal government dithers: “That gap of stranger to stranger we have to close in my opinion.”
The lieutenant governor correctly insists his view is not only common sense but also mirrors the view of most others, a fact consistently buoyed by polling: “When I talk to gun owners, NRA members and voters, people don’t understand why we allow strangers to sell guns to total strangers when they have no idea if the person they’re selling guns to could be a felon, could be someone who’s getting a gun to go commit a crime or could be a potential mass shooter or someone who has serious mental issues.”
We don’t understand, either. When we’ve suggested closing such loopholes previously, some gun-rights champion will inevitably insist it wouldn’t make much difference because so few people purchase guns through such loopholes. Great. Then closing such loopholes obviously won’t adversely impact gun rights. As for the inevitable “slippery slope” argument, we remind Second Amendment buffs that every mass shooting where our friends and neighbors are slaughtered greases that incline. Lt. Gov. Patrick, one of the strongest of NRA proponents, is evidence of that.
Shortly after Patrick’s interview was published online, the NRA Institute for Legislative Action responded: “With due respect, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s ‘proposals’ would resurrect the same broken, Bloomberg-funded failures that were attempted under the Obama administration. Like most political gambits, Lt. Gov. Patrick’s ‘solution’ precedes his possession of the facts, including this critical concession by the Obama administration: Criminalizing private firearm transfers would require a massive, governmental gun-registration scheme.”
That’s the NRA trying to further incite those who believe they’ll need high-powered weaponry to take out law enforcement and military personnel when an authoritarian government takes over. Let’s hope Patrick’s resolve doesn’t weaken, that he can lead legislators to overdue reforms and that he can set an example for his friend, President Trump.