Background checks should be no-brainer

A background check for anyone wanting to buy a gun is something the vast majority of people in this country agree makes common sense ("We deserve a vote," Feb. 17). If licensed gun dealers must do it, obviously it makes no sense to exempt those 40 percent of gun purchases that evade the checks by going through private sellers. Case closed.

I'm sure every serious person also wants to see gun violence in this country decline. So universal background checks should be an easy vote for every member of Congress, no matter what state they represent.

Personally, I also strongly favor a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. The gun lobby always tries to pick these ideas apart with technical objections but I take a broader view. If we're to begin changing the way Americans use and misuse guns, we have to begin to change the emotional climate — just as we have with smoking. Remember the days when cigarette companies proudly advertised on radio which veterans hospitals they had sent free smokes to each week? That sounds bizarre now — just as bizarre as the old TV smoking commercials on "The Flintstones" cartoons.

That's what we have to do with guns — not eliminate them, as that would be impossible — but make it socially unacceptable to think of using a gun to settle an argument or to express some self-perceived grievance.

Larry Carson, Columbia

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