Congress vs. the States on Guns
June 22, 2016, 2:27pm

The Editorial Board – The New York Times.

On Monday, the Supreme Court decided to not take up Second Amendment challenges to laws in Connecticut and New York that ban the sale or possession of many semiautomatic assault rifles and large-capacity magazines in those states.

With those denials, the latest of more than 70 rejections of challenges to gun regulations, the justices have made it clear that reasonable gun-control laws are fully consistent with Second Amendment rights.

Yet Congress has refused time and again to help protect Americans from rampant gun violence, and so it has fallen on state lawmakers to address this national crisis. Some state and local governments have banned or restricted certain types of ammunition, or prohibited classes of people, like those convicted of multiple instances of drunken driving, from possessing guns. Others have imposed universal background checks and safe-storage requirements on gun owners.

These are all good efforts, but a patchwork solution is not enough. Anyone who cannot buy a gun in one state can simply drive to the next to find looser laws. The Orlando massacre only made clearer the need for national legislation. Yet in a familiar scene on Monday, four separate measures in the Senate — to block people with suspected terrorist ties from buying guns and to close loopholes in background check laws — were defeated.

On Tuesday, Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, introduced a bipartisan bill that would give the attorney general the authority to bar gun sales to people on either of two watch lists — the “no-fly” list and the “selectee” list, which includes those who are subject to extra security screening before boarding a plane. About 2,700 Americans are on these lists. The bill would also alert the F.B.I. of any attempted gun purchase by someone who has been listed on the broader terrorist watch list in the past five years — as the Orlando killer was. Those who believed they had been wrongly denied a gun could appeal directly to a federal court. Senator Collins’s bill would be one small step forward on a long road.

This does not need to be so difficult. By strong and sometimes overwhelming majorities, Americans — including gun owners and members of the National Rifle Association — support stronger gun laws, including universal background checks, preventing suspected terrorists from buying guns and limiting magazine capacities.

Only by taking action on measures like these can members of Congress show that they care more about the wishes of their constituents than of the gun lobby.