William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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COMMON SENSE – AT 9:21 A.M. ET:  Much reaction, along expected lines, to President Obama's gun-control proposals, made public yesterday.

There is considerable resentment, and properly so, over the fact that no real study was done by Biden's gun commission before the "recommendations" were made.  No hearings, no consultation with contending groups.  There seemed to be a desire to "seize" the moment after the Newtown tragedy to push through old ideas, some good, some not so good.

I note, as one example of "not so good" the fact that, while the Obamans are yapping about movies and video games in their gun-control statements, there is not a single mention of the kind of violent, obscene music piped into inner-city communities, music that portrays women in the most vile manner and has an underlying theme of violent action.  No mention at all.  Why?

CBS News has done a well-constructed poll on public reaction to the proposals that are out there.  Common sense seems to be shining through:

Ninety-two percent of Americans favor background checks for all potential gun buyers, according to a new CBS News/New York Times poll.

Universal background checks are one of the proposals that President Obama has called on Congress to pass as part of his proposal to combat gun violence in the wake of the massacre in a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in December.

"If you want to buy a gun -- whether it's from a licensed dealer or a private seller -- you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one," Mr. Obama said Wednesday, adding that "as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check."

Licensed gun dealers already must run background checks, but unlicensed dealers and private sellers, many of whom sell guns at gun shows or over the internet, are not required to do so.

Public reaction is reasonable and understandable.  By the way, the much-maligned NRA is also in favor of background checks.  So there's virtual unanimity on this point.

Only seven percent of respondents in the poll, which was conducted before the president's press conference, said they oppose background checks for all potential gun buyers.

Support for universal background checks went across party lines: 89 percent of Republicans and 93 percent of Democrats and independents were in favor, as well as 93 percent of gun households and 85 percent of those living in a household with a member of the National Rifle Association.

Seventy-four percent of Americans, meanwhile, said that more armed security guards would help prevent mass shootings in public places. Thirty-five percent said armed guards would help a lot in places like schools, movie theatres and malls, and another 39 percent said they would help some. One in four said they would not help.

In response to the Newtown tragedy, the NRA has called for all schools to have armed guards.

COMMENT:  Even Obama fell into line yesterday and called for more funding for armed guards.  Of course we should have those guards at schools, if a community so wishes.   We have them at malls, at banks.  Is it more important to protect the Apple Store than our kids? 

By the way, some unprepared journalists have recently made some ignorant comments about armed guards, claiming that there had been an armed guard at Columbine, but that he hadn't done any good.  In fact, the heroic armed guard at Columbine – Neil Gardner, a sheriff's deputy – did incredible work during the mass shooting there, confronting the shooters and giving teachers time to to lead students to safety.   This guard probably saved the lives of scores of students.

January 17, 2013