The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Editorials

June 25, 2013

Background checks

One of West Virginia’s major daily newspapers, with a long history of supporting a conservative viewpoint, recently conducted a nonpartisan poll to find out how state residents feel about expanding background checks on firearms sales at ever-popular gun shows.

The Charleston Daily Mail poll showed that 75 percent of West Virginians support such a change while 17 percent don’t.

West Virginia is likely as conservative as you get when it comes to gun control issues so for this poll to show such a strong majority in favor of a piece of federal legislation, which our own U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin is still pushing, speaks volumes.

Manchin is already being targeted by ads funded by the National Rifle Association for his continued efforts, and he has in turn launched his own campaign encouraging state residents to contact the NRA and let them know how they feel.

That aside, it’s time the government toughens up on gun show sales.

For those who run legitimate firearms shops, they are required to do so. It should be the same for everyone at these private events as well.

This isn’t an issue about Second Amendment rights and the right to bear arms. Manchin’s bipartisan effort for expansion of background checks isn’t singling out so-called assault weapons or high-capacity magazines, either. Those are other components of other bills that a majority of West Virginians don’t support.

It is an issue about common sense and safety that has long been overlooked and has gotten out of control. We must do more to try to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and those who aren’t mentally stable.

If an overwhelming majority of West Virginians support the expanded checks, that should clearly send a message to the doubters in Washington that it’s time to get it done.

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