From an editorial published in the New York Times on Dec. 29:
The FBI reports that gun dealers submitted the names of almost half a million customers in the six days before Christmas, with December on its way to surpassing November, which had a record tally of 1,534,414 names submitted for background checks for criminal convictions and mental health issues. Only a little more than 1 percent of buyers are typically rejected by federally licensed gun dealers.
The FBI data are particularly grim given the Jan. 8 anniversary of the shooting rampage in Tucson, Ariz., that left Rep. Gabrielle Giffords gravely shot, six people dead and 13 others wounded. Politicians vowed gun reforms, like a ban on the 33-round assault clips that enabled the shooter to attack a crowd in an instant and improvements in the background check system.
None of these have been enacted as the nation heads toward the end of another year of almost 100,000 people shot or killed with a gun. There's been a hearing for a worthy Senate bill that strengthens the background check and applies it to all gun sales, but the House is poised to swat it down. The gun lobby claims the spike in gun sales is because more people are feeling the need to protect themselves - even though the latest FBI data show a 6-percent drop in violent crimes. A raft of studies have found that the presence of guns greatly increased the likelihood of homicide and suicide in households.
Political leaders in both parties should be treating the annual gun death toll as a serious public health and moral problem. Polls show the public wants action. Protest candlelight vigils organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are being planned nationally for Jan. 8. Nearly 30 cities and towns have signed up, proof that sensible voters are demanding stronger protection from gun violence.