EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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April 30, 2013

Letter: Ayotte wrong on background check vote

To the editor:

Sen. Ayotte’s defenders (see April 24 and 25 letters to the editor) rightfully praise the reasonableness of her support for two gun-related bills.

But she deserves no praise for helping defeat the Toomey-Manchin background check bill and several other common sense amendments.

No one is against responsible gun ownership. But the senator and her defenders repeat the false, NRA-drafted claim that Toomey-Manchin could “some day” deny lawful gun owners their Second Amendment rights. In fact, Toomey-Manchin specifically forbade keeping a national registry.

Ayotte claims that all that is needed is to “enforce background checks already on the books.” Yes, better enforcement is needed.

But private sales online and at gun shows are not covered by the current law if the seller is not licensed. That’s a big loophole.

According to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, 50 to 75 percent of vendors at gun shows are unlicensed, 63 percent of private gun sellers acknowledge that they sold guns to those who admitted they couldn’t pass a background check and 10 percent of guns used by juveniles in crimes were bought at gun shows or flea markets.

Clearly tightening and enforcing the current law is not enough. Without private sale background checks we cannot prevent yet more guns going to criminals and the mentally ill, not to mention abusive boyfriends, those with violent criminal convictions, etc.

So Ayotte’s vote against Toomey-Manchin appears to be just a craven attempt to maintain her NRA “A” rating.

Ayotte and friends suggest that the most important way to reduce gun deaths in this country is to address mental illness. Keep guns away from the mentally ill? Of course, but Ayotte deserves no “Profile in Courage” award for her cosponsoring the Mental Health First Aid Act that passed the Senate 95-2.

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