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, fairly crowing, claims the spike in gun sales is because more people are feeling the need to protect themselves — even though the latest F.B.I. 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.
Instead of cowering before the gun lobby, 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 is wiser than many politicians on the gun issue. Protest candlelight vigils organized by the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence are being planned nationally for Jan. 8, the anniversary of the Tucson rampage. Nearly 30 cities and towns have signed up, proof that sensible voters are demanding stronger protection from gun violence.