One does have to wonder how the NRA can intimidate our Congress and Administration to this degree. Is it that this group has this much actual power or is that they have convinced the public and elected officials that they do? What happens when someone stands up to them? Not much really. They like to think that people don't get elected if they challenge the "common " wisdom that you don't mess with the NRA. They would be wrong. In the last election, the NRA spent millions to go after then candidate Obama without success. The same is true with the other national races. In the last two Supreme Court Justice nomination processes, the NRA threatened to, and did, "score" the votes. This means that they are keeping track of the votes of the Senators so they can use the vote against them at election time or, more likely, intimidate them into voting against Justices Sotomayor Kagan. It didn't work.
We need a strong ATF. Here is a good example of how the ATF works to trace crime guns and find criminals. Some who have posted comments to my blog insist that background checks on private sales will lead to gun registration and the government knowing who they are and how many guns they have. Far from that scenario is the one in the story linked above. Many crime guns are purchased through "straw purchases". A quote from the article sets the scene: " The younger Wortham pulled his gun and identified himself as an officer, according to police.In seconds, gunfire erupted on the quiet street as the Floyds and the Wortham apparently exchanged fire. One of the men in the car, Paris McGee, 20, was also charged with firing a gun, according to court records.
Wortham and Brian Floyd, 20, were fatally shot. McGee and Toyious Taylor, 30, screeched off, striking Wortham and dragging him about 30 feet, according to police.The Smith & Wesson was left at the scene. Within about seven hours, using the gun's unique serial number, a federal firearms trace led investigators to Elliott's purchase at Ed's, which had been reported to ATF as a matter of routine."
Several things stand out here. First of all, Wortham was a police officer who had a gun and when he pulled it, the men in the car fired back, killing him. He did manage to shoot one of the attackers and kill him as well. In this case, a gun for self defense did not help save the officer's life. Secondly, in 7 hours, the ATF had traced the gun to the pawn shop where it was purchased by a straw purchaser for a man who was illegally trafficking guns. One of his guns ended up in the hands of the wrong people and led to the death of the officer. Now several people have been charged with a crime and are serving time. The ones who were "innocent" were still complicit, knowingly or unknowingly. And this is how many guns make their way around and around and around, from Mississippi to Chicago in this case.
So to those who think that background checks on private sales of guns at gun shows are a bad idea, one of them could actually lead to stopping someone from providing guns to those who should not have them. The ATF is not after innocent and law abiding citizens with guns. They are underfunded and without a Director. It's hard enough to do their jobs effectively and efficiently in the name of public safety. Is that actually what the gun lobby wants? And, if so, why? The case in the story linked above shows how important this agency is. Congress and the President need to find the will and the backbone to appoint and approve of a new Director. Lives depend on it.