HURST: Republicans need to come to the table on background checks, or risk Democrats passing anti-Second Amendment bill

This Dec. 24, 2020, file photo shows the U.S. Capitol is seen in Washington, D.C. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

Republicans in North Carolina, and in Congress, are understandably on edge about Democrats trying to leverage tragedies to pass gun laws that are obviously infringements on our Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. While this fear may be partially founded, given that some Democrats try to argue that this right to personal protection is not guaranteed in the Constitution, our elected officials should not let this stand in the way of closing loopholes in our laws that are currently being exploited by criminals.

It was recently announced that the NRA was launching a digital ad campaign in North Carolina to fight against President Biden’s gun control policies, and I imagine that most gun owners oppose 99% of the president’s and congressional Democrats’ positions on guns. But it may surprise many to learn that a majority — at least 52% — of NRA members polled say they support background checks for private gun sales, and that number is higher, 77%, for Republican voters more generally.

This might seem unlikely given the contentiousness of the gun issue, largely driven by the media narrative, but when you dig further into the specifics, it makes good sense.

Many Second Amendment supporters believe the Founders prioritized this right so people could protect themselves and their families. Allowing felons, or those who have had their rights removed as a result of due process, to access firearms is a danger for our communities. For example, no one would say the dangerously mentally ill should be able to purchase firearms.

A bipartisan group of Senators is looking at closing loopholes that allow strangers to sell guns to other strangers without a background check.

While there is a lot we can disagree on regarding gun rights, we can make progress by focusing on what we do agree on, which is that we want to keep our families safe from people who should legally not be able to purchase firearms. The best way our elected officials can do this is to close any loopholes in current laws that allow felons to easily gain access to firearms.

This is where Congress comes in. A bipartisan group of Senators is looking at closing loopholes that allow strangers to sell guns to other strangers without a background check. Some might assume this is already law, but as it stands, only licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks.

While there is certainly a lot of room for error in any gun legislation, Sens. Thom Tillis and Richard Burr can fight to ensure that any agreement that is reached in the Senate closes loopholes without infringing on our Second Amendment rights. Thankfully, Sen. Pat Toomey, who is leading the negotiations on the Republican side, knows clearly that there are certain lines that cannot be crossed, such as requiring a background check when a father sells a gun to his son or daughter.

What is also clear is that if Republicans refuse to come to the table, Democrats will undoubtedly take any background check bill too far. With the filibuster under constant threat, and a Democratically controlled House, Senate and White House, it is more important than ever that Republicans stand up for our Second Amendment rights. The best way to do so is to support expanding background checks and by taking an active role in drafting any legislation on this issue.

Bobby Hurst, former Fayetteville city councilmember