Sunday, April 28, 2013

Oregonians Support Common Sense Gun Safety Laws

Despite 90% of Americans supporting universal background checks, including 91% of gun-owning households, and even 74% of NRA members (see the data here), the U.S. Senate voted down a watered-down background check bill sponsored by two NRA-rated senators, with a vote of 45 against and 55 for, despite a majority"yes" vote (it needed 60 votes to prevent a filibuster).  

Shame on those who voted against it! 

Not surprisingly, the 93% of those who voted against it were paid by the NRA, to the tune of $800,000.  Don't like how they voted "no"?  Let them know.  Here are their Twitter handles.

For one senator who voted "no", her polls showed an immediate drop in approval rating.  Republican New Hampshire senator Kelly Ayotte's approval rating suddenly dropped 15 points:

Forty-five percent of independents in the state disapproved of Ayotte, up 13 points since October. Half of voters said her vote on background checks made them less inclined to vote for her, with only a quarter saying it made them more likely to support her. 
Among the critical third of voters who described themselves as moderates, disapproval of Ayotte increased by 21 points, with two-thirds saying her vote against background checks made them less likely to vote for her. Only 13 percent said it made them more likely to back her, an overwhelming 5-1 margin.
In face, according to a recent article, Ayotte is one of five senators who saw significant drops in their approval ratings after voting "no":

Senator Flake, for example, has a 19-percentage point spread between those who approve of his performance (32 percent) versus those who don’t (51 percent), making him the most unpopular senator in PPP’s polling data. 
Senators Ayotte, Portman, and Murkowski saw their approval ratings decline by more than 15 percentage points, compared with previous PPP polls taken in recent months. Senator Begich saw an eight-point decline, and Senator Dean Heller (R) of Nevada held roughly steady with a three-point drop in approval.

But what about the polls for those who voted "yes"?  One example might be one of the co-sponsors of the compromise, Pennsylvania senator Pat Toomey.  Even though he's also a Republican, his approval rating got a positive bump following the vote:

Voters approved 34-29 percent of the way Toomey handled the gun control vote and hey gave him an overall 48 - 30 percent approval rating, his highest ever. By a 54 - 12 percent margin, voters think more favorably of Toomey because of his co-sponsorship of legislation to require expanded background checks, Quinny pollsters found. 
State voters were dissatisfied with the way the Senate vote went down, with 34 percent of voters "angry," while 36 percent are "dissatisfied." Only 5 percent are "enthusiastic," with 22 percent "satisfied," with the vote.

Let this be a strong message to legislators:  If you don't follow the wishes of your people, but instead put ahead of them the wishes of a dangerous lobby, you'll lose your job.

But strong support for universal background checks and other sensible gun control measures isn't just nationwide, it's here in Oregon, too.

Consider a poll of 500 Oregonian adults performed for KATU TV back in January.  As with the national numbers, Oregonians approve of universal background checks to the tune of 90%:

When asked whether criminal background checks should be required for every person who wants to buy a new gun, 90 percent of people polled said they should be required. Seven percent said “no” and four percent were not sure. 
That poll’s margin of error was +/- 2.7 percent. 
Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on Monday said he joined a group of hundreds of mayors across the country calling on local and national lawmakers to take steps to end illegal gun violence. Hales said he wants to require criminal background checks for all new gun owners.
There are currently four gun bills in the Oregon Legislature which are likely to pass, but they need our support: 

  • Senate Bill 700: Universal Background Checks – Closes the private sales loophole so criminals and other dangerous people can’t buy guns. 
  • Senate Bill 347: Gun-Free Schools – Gives school districts the authority to prohibit guns on campus.
  • Senate Bill 699: Guns in Public Buildings – Ensures that citizens cannot openly carry guns in buildings where public bodies are deliberating.
  • Senate Bill 796: Training for Concealed Handgun License – Requires citizens to attend an in-person class before obtaining a concealed handgun license.

As you can see, the first of those, SB 700, clearly seeks to do what 90% of Oregonians want:  universal background checks.

But don't just look at the numbers.  Here are the voices of Oregonians who have, unfortunately, been touched by gun violence, as I have:

So the big question is this:  Will our Oregon legislators follow the will of the people and vote in commonsense gun reforms to help keep guns out of prohibited hands, keep our kids and citizens safe in schools and other public buildings, and make sure that the people who can carry guns in public places can at least hit a target?  Or will our Oregon legislators continue to bow to the gun lobbies and the very-vocal, but tiny minority of extremist gun owners? 

Call them now.  Let them know that they represent all of Oregon, not just a few extremists.