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Dr. Joe Wenke Headshot

Our Friends and Neighbors in Congress

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The NRA is holding the United States Congress hostage. It's an act of terror, but Congress seems to like it. Stockholm syndrome? No, it's just plain cowardice. Even with an overwhelming majority of Americans on the side of background checks -- in fact, more than 90 percent -- Congress can't find its backbone.

There must be a powerful lobbying group for criminals that I don't know about. Whoever they are, they've really gotten to a lot of senators and congressmen on their side. These elected officials are now telling us that if criminals are not going to abide by a law, then there is no sense in passing it. That's crazy, right? Yeah, but I'm not making it up. Charles E. Grassley, the Republican senator from Iowa, actually said, "Criminals do not submit to background checks now. ... They will not submit to expanded background checks." When Grassley refers to "expanded background checks," he's not talking about universal background checks, which is what almost all Americans want. He's talking about any expansion of background checks.

The senate bill that was defeated called for expanding background checks to include online and gun show sales. So-called "friends and neighbors" didn't have to worry. Under the proposed law, they could still sell guns to each other with no oversight or restrictions.

Obviously we don't want or need background checks for friends and neighbors, because friends and neighbors are by definition all law-abiding citizens. (Apparently criminals have no friends or neighbors.) At the same time, we don't want or need background checks for online or gun show sales, because that would do no good. Criminals would not submit to background checks and would just get their guns from somewhere else, which is where? What's left? I guess the friendless and neighborless criminals who wanted to buy guns would go to other friendless and neighborless criminals who wanted to sell guns, so there's just no point in passing any law restricting gun sales whatsoever.

Here's my message to Congress: If you won't pass a law because you think criminals won't abide by it, then you have no right to govern. You need to resign. Now! If you won't resign, then at least have the courage of your cowardly convictions and submit a bill to repeal all background checks. If that bill passes, you might want to take the ultimate step and introduce legislation to repeal all federal laws. After all, criminals don't abide by laws anyway.

Of course, that will never happen, not because it's absurd but because if there were no federal laws, there would be no need for Congress. Senators and congressmen would be out of their jobs, and we all know that staying in their jobs is all that our friends and neighbors in Congress actually care about.

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