Here’s something the National Rifle Association would rather you didn’t know: A new survey out this week finds a majority of gun dealers support both comprehensive background checks on gun buyers, and banning people with serious criminal records, mental illnesses, or a history of alcohol abuse from buying firearms.
The NRA was apparently so worked up about this survey, launched in 2011 by Garen Wintemute, a University of California-Davis professor of emergency medicine, that the group sent a letter to its members asking them not to participate. But as Al Jazeera reports, it turns out Wintemute (whose research on the impacts of gun control measures we discussed in our May issue) is himself an NRA member. “I’ve been a member for many years, partly because I’ve enjoyed shooting in the past and partly in connection with my research,” Wintemute told me. He chose to disregard the group’s suggestion that he not cooperate with himself. Instead, he went on to gather information from 1,601 gun dealers, pawnshops, and gunsmiths in 43 states.
Guess those dealers didn’t get the memo—or could it be that the NRA’s clout among its members isn’t as strong as Congress seems to think?