Even though 97 percent of the public wants stronger background checks, many Republicans are still standing in the way.
A group of former top military advisers is pressuring Republicans to support a commonsense background checks bill making its way through Congress.
The gun safety legislation, known as H.R. 8 or the Bipartisan Background Checks Act, is part of the commitment of the new Democratic majority's agenda to reject the influence of the NRA-backed gun lobby and pass commonsense gun safety legislation that is popular with voters — of both political parties.
"After a year of horrific mass shootings — Las Vegas, Sutherland Springs, Parkland, Thousand Oaks — and daily gun violence spreading across our country, when it comes to making Americans safer, it is clear we have no time to waste," the Feb. 20 letter reads.
The letter is signed by 13 former military advisers who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, including former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden, retired Gen. Stanley McChrystal, and former Coast Guard Commandant Thad Allen. The letter was organized by Giffords, a gun safety advocacy organization created by former Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in 2011 during a public meeting with constituents.
"A prohibited person with dangerous intent can easily buy a gun over the internet or in a parking lot with no questions asked," the letter continues. "For those of us with extensive firearms training, who have seen the damage inflicted by a powerful weapon in the wrong hands, this is simply unfathomable."
The letter — addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and Minority Leader Chuck Schumer — urges Congress to swiftly pass the bill into law.
The bill passed out of the House Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote, meaning all Republicans on the committee voted against it. While a handful of Republicans not on the committee back the bill, the overwhelming support comes from the new Democratic majority in the House. In fact, the bill would be the first significant piece of gun safety legislation to pass the House in more than a decade.
According to Roll Call, the main purpose of the letter by military leaders is to convince Republicans, especially in the Senate, that universal background checks are necessary to ensure that the wrong people don't acquire guns.
The letter references a poll showing a stunning 97 percent of Americans support universal background checks legislation. The same poll shows background checks have the support of 97 percent of Republicans, 98 percent of independents, and 99 percent of Democrats. Even 97 percent of gun owners support the idea.
"The data supports the legislation," former Army Capt. Terron Sims II, one of the letter's signatories, told Roll Call. "It's just a matter of getting those moderate Republicans to go with the will of their constituents."
For years, Republicans resisted the will of the American people and sided with the NRA. But the 2018 midterm election showed Americans across the country reject the pro-death agenda of the gun lobby and vote for a Congress willing to take steps to reduce gun violence.
"Now it is time for the leaders of our nation to step up," the military leaders tell Congress.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.