Rural West Virginians may be America's most ardent gun-lovers -- but even they want to keep deadly weapons away from criminals and dangerous mental patients.
The West Virginia Poll found that 75 percent of sampled West Virginians favor background checks for informal sales at gun shows, while only 17 percent oppose the safeguard. The remaining 8 percent were unsure.
This overwhelming 4-to-1 margin lends powerful support to Sen. Joe Manchin's crusade to save American lives by imposing background checks on gun sales at shows and through local ads and the Internet.
Likewise, it shows that the fanatical gun lobby, including the National Rifle Association, is a small fringe out of step with mainstream America. It's loony for the NRA to want to let criminals and psychotics buy pistols freely at gun shows.
Other questions found West Virginians more evenly divided. As for banning high-volume clips used in gun massacres, 47 percent said yes and 40 percent said no. As for banning military-style assault weapons, 44 percent said yes and 42 percent said no.
Asked whether U.S. gun control laws should be stricter, 34 percent said yes while only 13 percent said they should be less strict. Almost half said laws should be kept the same, and 5 percent had no opinion.
In the statewide poll, 55 percent of West Virginians said they own guns, compared to 43 percent of Americans in general. The West Virginia Poll is conducted by the Charleston Daily Mail and R.L. Repass and Partners.
Although Sen. Manchin's sensible safety proposal narrowly was stymied by a Republican filibuster, he vows to keep pushing it. He plans counter-ads to repudiate NRA ads smearing him.
Nationally, a December Gallup Poll found that 92 percent of Americans support lifesaving protections of the type drafted by Manchin. How can the NRA be so absurdly out of touch with U.S. reality?
This week, Vice President Joe Biden vowed to "beat the gun lobby" and pass measures to reduce America's horrible gun murder toll. He said some Republicans in Congress worry that they will "pay a political price" for their blind obedience to the NRA, so they may switch their votes on Manchin's bill. We hope Biden is correct.
It's shameful that America is the gun murder capital of the world -- and it's shameful that right-wing politicians won't do anything to protect people. We hope a tide of public disgust rolls against them.