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KATIE ZERR: Lawmakers take notice, this time it is different

As I listened to the news this morning it was reported the president directed the Justice Department to ban bump stocks and is contemplating requiring universal background checks for those purchasing a gun.
I must say I was taken aback a little by the information and the feeling that I got when I agreed with this president. It was bit unsettling. There is very little in which he and I see eye-to-eye.
My first reaction was “it’s about time” and then I began to delve more deeply into this move. I wondered if the president will actually follow through with these plans or if, like many other times, he has said one thing and done another, this too will fall apart and be blamed on someone else.
I also thought about him using this as a bargaining chip with the Democrats. A vote for the wall and he might consider universal background checks. That’s the way it works whether it makes us sick to our stomachs or not.
Later I read that a new poll by Quinnipiac University published Tuesday found that a stunning majority of Americans are in favor of more stringent gun laws. With numbers such as 97 percent of all respondents saying they were in favor of universal background checks on all gun purchases, the president can hardly ignore it. Even though Republicans and Democrats from conservative states have ignored these numbers for years, this president is obsessed with big numbers. He is still whining about the reported size of the crowd at his inauguration!
But the public support of universal background checks, which would require almost all firearms transactions in the United States to be recorded, and go through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, closing what is sometimes called the private sale loophole, is nothing new. The majority of Americans have supported this for many years but the NRA is opposed and has spent a lot of money and political clout fighting it.
The organization says that expanding a broken system won’t fix the problem.
I found it very interesting that support for universal background checks was practically uniform across all categories, including race, gender, age group, or partisan affiliation. Among Democrats, 99 percent of respondents favored universal background checks, as did 97 percent of Republicans and 98 percent of independents. Whites with college degrees and men scored the lowest rate of support — at 96 percent.
The fact that support for stricter gun laws is up 19 points in little more than two years has not gotten through to most politicians, but has the president seen the light?
If the NRA comes after the president will he change his tune? He is known to do just that when strong lobbies push back at him.
For me the answer is pretty simple. The gun lobby is much stronger now than the anti-gun-violence movement and therefore the president is likely to cave, again.
I have always contended that lawmakers who faced the parents of the children murdered at Sandy Hook and turned away from the crushing grief of this nation without making a move to toughen weapons laws and enforcement of those laws, are firmly bought and paid for by the NRA.
By issuing the now standard “thoughts and prayers” statements, they think they have done enough.
Heartless and soulless are words that come to mind as I read those statements. Say the same old, same old and do nothing because that is what the boss wants.
I will issue a warning to those lawmakers who think this time will be like all the others.
This time young adults witnessed their friends and teachers being massacred. This time, social media will replay over and over again the anguish of those students watching as a young person with an automatic weapon, mowed down 17 people.
These students will be legal voters very soon. These kids can influence millions of other soon to be voters by using social media.
This movement should scare those lawmakers who put money before all else.
This will not go away. They will not be able to buy this movement with misleading information issued by the pro-gun people.
Strong activists were born from this horrific situation and lawmakers need to wake up to this new reality.
The money they get from the NRA will stop when they get voted out of office.
South Dakota lawmakers should sit up and take notice of what is just beyond the horizon.
– Katie Zerr –