EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 9, 2013

Ayotte ignores the big loophole


The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

In her May 7 column about how strongly she wants to limit gun violence (”Ayotte: I voted to improve background check system”), Sen. Kelly Ayotte rebukes her critics for “misleading and poisonous” comments. Wow! Her self-congratulatory defense demonstrates real expertise in “misleading.”

Yes, she supported changing the current background check system and keeping guns from the mentally ill. But so do most Americans — even almost the entire Senate, by a vote of 95-2. The senator also states the obvious: no legislation can thoroughly guarantee the prevention of carnage.

But her arguments fall short. Her excuse for not expanding background checks to include gun shows and online private sales (the Manchin-Toomey Amendment, which she helped defeat, even though a majority voted for it) is that the current system does not catch or successfully prosecute all criminals.

She says, in effect, “no expansion before fixing the current system’s weaknesses.” Fine, fix it. But fixing is not enough, because 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 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. So closing the gun show loophole would go a long way toward Sen. Ayotte’s stated goal of limiting gun access to criminals.

Why does the senator not even mention this huge loophole, no less work to close it? Might she fear losing her NRA “A” rating, along with that lobby’s financial support for her reelection in 2016?

If she truly wants “to find solutions” — and not simply mislead by self-congratulation — and if she were truly listening to her constituents, she’d acknowledge that the vast majority of us support closing the gun show loophole — and several other proposals opposed by the NRA. Shame on her. We will not forget in 2016.

Charlie Zoeller

Derry