What will it take to get the gun show loophole closed?

How many more tragedies need to happen before elected officials have the guts to close the gun show loophole? The latest high-profile beneficiary of this loophole was the mentally ill attacker in the recent shootings near the Pentagon.

Law enforcement officials say [John Patrick] Bedell, a man with a history of severe psychiatric problems, had been sent a letter by California authorities Jan. 10 telling him he was prohibited from buying a gun because of his mental history.

Nineteen days later, the officials say, Bedell bought the Ruger at a gun show in Las Vegas. Such a sale by a private individual does not require the kind of background check that would have stopped Bedell’s purchase.

Republican politicians fall all over themselves trying to prove how loyal they are to the National Rifle Association. Some are against any kind of background checks for people who want to carry firearms in public. Too many Democrats are afraid to stand up to this NRA-approved extremism. Meanwhile, a Republican pollster’s recent survey of gun owners shows that they understand the need for reasonable limits:

Mr. Luntz queried 832 gun owners, including 401 card-carrying N.R.A. members, in a survey commissioned by Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the alliance of hundreds of executives seeking stronger gun laws. In flat rebuttal of N.R.A. propaganda, the findings showed that 69 percent of N.R.A. members supported closing the notorious gun-show loophole that invites laissez-faire arms dealing outside registration requirements.

Even more members, 82 percent, favored banning gun purchases to suspects on terrorist watch lists who are now free to arm. And 69 percent disagreed with Congressionally imposed rules against sharing federal gun-trace information with state and local police agencies.

Fortunately, it looks as if a proposal to make it easier for Iowans to carry concealed weapons is unlikely to advance during this year’s legislative session. That bill’s main advocate is Iowa House Republican Clel Baudler. He serves on the NRA’s board and doesn’t even support steps to remove guns from domestic abusers. (Last fall, Baudler suggested that murder victim Tereseann Lynch Moore might not have been killed by her estranged husband if she had been carrying her own gun.) Not that Baudler is an isolated case; a disturbing number of Iowa Republican legislators opposed a recent bill to get guns out of the hands of convicted domestic abusers and people subject to a restraining order.

CORRECTION: I spoke too soon above. Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy have idiotically revived the NRA’s pet bill, which “would give Iowa one of the loosest gun-permit laws in the country.” Bad for public safety, bad politics. No one who wants to increase the number of Iowans carrying concealed weapons is going to vote for Democrats.

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