Expanding background checks for gun purchases is the most vital move President Obama can make in the battle to reduce gun violence, experts say, and 90% of the American public is in favor of expanding them. But the White House still faces an uphill battle in passing the bill—the first significant piece of gun control legislation since 1993—as senators continue to squabble over the minutiae and pro-gun groups step up their opposition, reports the New York Times. “If you were only going to do one thing, this is the single most important thing that Congress can do to prevent gun violence,” says an adviser to Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns. “If it does fail, then Congress is going to need to explain why they thwarted the will of the electorate."
The current background-check system has vetted 108 million people and denied 1.9 million purchases since 1994, but only covers 60% of gun sales. The NRA has previously supported background checks, but with Obama and gun control advocates now pushing for stricter laws, it's fighting back against what it believes will ultimately result in a national gun registry. “When another tragic ‘opportunity’ presents itself, that registry will be used to confiscate your guns,” warns NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre.