Skip to main content

Americans, even NRA members, want gun reforms

By Mark Glaze, Special to CNN
updated 7:42 AM EST, Fri February 1, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Mark Glaze: Gun murders, mass shootings force Washington to rethink gun policy
  • Glaze: Americans want background checks and no military-style assault weapons
  • U.S. has more guns than any other nation and towering gun murder rate, he says
  • Glaze: Mainstream gun owners, 74% of NRA members want background checks

Editor's note: Mark Glaze is director of the national coalition Mayors Against Illegal Guns. Join Anderson Cooper, Sanjay Gupta, Jeffrey Toobin and Jack Gray at noon in a live Google Hangout at AC360.com. Send questions and thoughts via #gundebate360 on Twitter and Google+.

(CNN) -- The daily toll of gun murders, and the increasing frequency and scale of mass shootings, have finally forced Washington to rethink gun policy.

Predictably, emotions are running high on TV talk shows and congressional panels. So it's a good time to remind ourselves that Americans -- including gun owners -- actually agree about what to do now, and have for a very long time.

From requiring criminal background checks on all gun sales to getting military-style assault weapons off our streets, Americans understand that it's entirely possible to respect the rights of law-abiding gun owners and do much more to keep people safe. The nation may be politically divided, but on guns there has long been a broad and enduring consensus.

Mark Glaze
Mark Glaze

The only people who seem to disagree are the National Rifle Association's Washington lobbyists. What was once a modest gun rights and gun safety organization is long gone. Today, as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said, it is principally a marketing organization, and its flagship product is fear.

Opinion: Gun extremists' alternate reality

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



This sad development was on full display during Wednesday's Senate hearing on gun violence, where NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre claimed that background checks for gun buyers -- a two-minute process that most gun buyers are happy to undergo -- will become "a universal federal nightmare imposed upon law-abiding people all over the country."

As an alternative, LaPierre has suggested that the answer to guns is more guns -- in the hands of almost anyone, in almost every place in America: every classroom, every daycare center, every movie theater, every shopping mall, every place of worship.

If more guns in more places is the NRA's proposal, we've run a pretty good pilot project -- and the results aren't good. The U.S. already has more firearms per capita than any other nation, making it the most heavily armed civilian population in the world. We have a gun murder rate that is about 15 times higher than other populous, high-income countries. This correlation has lost the power to surprise -- except perhaps for LaPierre, who believes "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."

Complete coverage: The gun debate

If only it were that simple. This isn't just about good guys and bad guys. Very often, the good guys get shot by bad guys with guns. This is about smart policies and dangerous ones.

Newtown parents plead for change
What gun hearing was like for Giffords
Victim's dad: 'We don't need those' guns
Guns find new life as jewelry

Gun owners know this, too. Those like my dad, a former firearms dealer in Colorado, are mainstream Americans with mainstream views on guns. That's why 74% of NRA members and 87% of non-NRA gun owners believe all gun buyers should get a criminal background check. A CBS/New York Times poll released on January 17 found 93% of those living in households with gun owners and 85% in households with NRA members support background checks.

They believe we have the right to bear arms, and they believe with rights come responsibilities. An instant background check is not too high a price to pay, when we know the current system -- even with big loopholes -- has saved many lives.

We have the right to go to the movies without being gunned down in our seats. We have the right to pray in our houses of worship without being victimized by a mentally unstable young man and his assault weapon. More than anything, we have the right to send our kids to school in the morning with the guarantee that they'll return home in the afternoon.

Opinion: Why the NRA fights for gun rights

Until lawmakers stand up to the gun lobby and stand up for the people they represent, the death toll will only continue to rise -- 33 people murdered with guns, every day, everywhere, in the world's indispensable nation.

When they do, they'll have major police organizations, survivors of gun violence, faith leaders, domestic violence opponents, many millions of parents, and more than 850 Mayors Against Illegal Guns standing with them.

If it's electoral retribution they're worried about, they should look at the last election. After investing more millions than ever to defeat President Barack Obama and elect pro-gun politicians, the NRA had one of the worst success rates of all political groups: a 0.83% return on a massive investment of its members' hard-earned money.

We can pass commonsense gun laws that will save many lives. The American people are demanding it, the president is demanding it, the families of the dead are demanding it.

It's time for our leaders to buck the NRA's Washington lobbyists. It's not as hard as they think.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion.

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Mark Glaze.

Watch Anderson Cooper 360° weeknights 8pm ET. For the latest from AC360° click here.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:03 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It used to be billy clubs, fire hoses and snarling German shepherds. Now it's armored personnel carriers and flash-bang grenades, writes Kara Dansky.
updated 1:27 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Maria Haberfeld: People who are unfamiliar with police work can reasonably ask, why was an unarmed man shot so many times, and why was deadly force used at all?
updated 5:52 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Ruben Navarrette notes that this fall, minority students will outnumber white students at America's public schools.
updated 5:21 PM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Humans have driven to extinction four marine mammal species in modern times. As you read this, we are on the brink of losing the fifth, write three experts.
updated 7:58 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
It's been ten days since Michael Brown was killed, and his family is still waiting for information from investigators about what happened to their young man, writes Mel Robbins
updated 10:11 AM EDT, Thu August 21, 2014
Sally Kohn says the Ferguson protests reflect broader patterns of racial injustice across the country, from chronic police violence and abuse against black men to the persistent economic and social exclusion of communities of color.
updated 8:42 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
The former U.K. prime minister and current U.N. envoy says there are 500 days left to fulfill the Millennium Goals' promise to children.
updated 9:10 AM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Julian Zelizer says the left mistrusts Clinton but there are ways she can win support from liberals in 2016
updated 1:38 PM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
Peter Bergen says the terror group is a huge threat in Iraq but only a potential one in the U.S.
updated 1:34 PM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
Mark O'Mara says the way cops, media, politicians and protesters have behaved since Michael Brown's shooting shows not all the right people have learned the right lessons
updated 11:23 AM EDT, Sun August 17, 2014
Retired Lt. Gen. Mark Hertling says the American military advisers in Iraq are sizing up what needs to be done and recommending accordingly
updated 3:41 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Marc Lamont Hill says the President's comments on the Michael Brown shooting ignored its racial implications
updated 5:46 PM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Joe Stork says the catastrophe in northern Iraq continues, even though many religious minorities have fled to safety: ISIS forces -- intent on purging them -- still control the area where they lived
updated 6:26 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Tim Lynch says Pentagon's policy of doling out military weapons to police forces is misguided and dangerous.
updated 9:15 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
S.E. Cupp says millennials want big ideas and rapid change; she talks to one of their number who serves in Congress
updated 7:57 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Dorothy Brown says the power structure is dominated by whites in a town that is 68% black. Elected officials who sat by silently as chaos erupted after Michael Brown shooting should be voted out of office
updated 7:49 AM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Bill Schmitz says the media and other adults should never explain suicide as a means of escaping pain. Robin Williams' tragic death offers a chance to educate about prevention
updated 11:05 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Nafees Syed says President Obama should renew the quest to eliminate bias in the criminal justice system
updated 4:24 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
Eric Liu says what's unfolded in the Missouri town is a shocking violation of American constitutional rights and should be a wake-up call to all
updated 3:22 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Neal Gabler says Lauren Bacall, a talent in her own right, will be defined by her marriage with the great actor Humphrey Bogart
updated 6:56 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Bob Butler says the arrest of two journalists covering the Ferguson story is alarming
updated 4:35 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Mark O'Mara says we all need to work together to make sure the tension between police and African-Americans doesn't result in more tragedies
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Mon August 18, 2014
Pepper Schwartz asks why young women are so entranced with Kardashian, who's putting together a 352-page book of selfies
updated 7:08 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Michael Friedman says depression does not discriminate, cannot be bargained with and shows no mercy.
updated 11:25 AM EDT, Tue August 12, 2014
LZ Granderson says we must not surrender to apathy about the injustice faced by African Americans
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT