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Thursday, April 18, 2013

Guns and Government

Even though some 90 percent of Americans favor expanded background checks for firearm sales, such a proposal went down to defeat.  In The Christian Science Monitor, I explain several obstacles to the legislation:

  • In the Senate, it takes 60 votes to pass most bills, and this measure had only 54 votes.
  • Lawmakers represent geographical constituencies whose views may differ from those of the country as a whole.
  • Politicians care less about poll respondents -- who may or may not vote -- than about people who take part in party primaries.
  • Foes of gun control tend to be more intense in their views -- and more likely to take political action -- than supporters.
  • Presidents have only limited ability to drive public opinion.
  • The Madisonian system hinders the direct translation of public opinion into public policy.