To the editor: Guns don't kill people, people kill people. That is the mantra held by the NRA and its members. The NRA opposes any form of gun regulation because they assert that it is not guns that are the problem, it is the bad people who use them. In fact, they go on to say that it will only be a good guy with a gun that will stop a bad guy with a gun.

So why does the NRA oppose weeding out the good guys from the bad guys when it comes to purchasing guns?

The NRA recently blocked legislation that would institute universal background checks in all states for all gun purchases. Currently, many states do not require background checks on private gun purchases. In Pennsylvania, for example, private sale of long guns, including assault rifles, do not require a background check.

Universal background checks will help keep guns out of the wrong hands. For law-abiding citizens, this is an easy and speedy process (if you have ever purchased a firearm from a dealer in Pennsylvania, you know that it takes just a few minutes).

The NRA opposes universal background checks even when nearly 90 percent of Americans and 74 percent of NRA members support the measure.

Of course, the NRA opposes any new gun laws. They say criminals do not obey laws and will acquire guns through whatever means possible. By this reasoning, why have any laws?

But the NRA does have a point - criminals are not above stealing guns. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, more than 145,000 firearms were stolen in 2010 alone. However, according to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), only 10 to 15 percent of weapons used by criminals are stolen. The ATF reports that the majority of guns used by criminals are purchased legally by someone and then sold or transferred to the criminal. These transactions are called straw purchases.

Many states regard straw purchases simply as a misdemeanor, sometimes imposing no sentence at all. In 2012, Gov. Corbett signed a law that would impose a five-year minimum sentence for anyone making a repeat - repeat - straw purchase in Pennsylvania. How many straw purchases does it take for a weapon to get into the wrong hands?

The bipartisan federal gun legislation drafted a few weeks ago proposed universal background checks and would have made straw purchases a felony, recommending a 15-year prison term for the straw purchaser or 25 years if the weapon was used in a violent crime.

The NRA effectively killed the bill; a minority of NRA-funded senators blocked a vote.

Universal gun laws related to background checks and illegal purchases make it less likely that guns will get into the wrong hands and provides universal rules for an item that can easily be slipped across state borders.

If the NRA is really on the side of law-abiding citizens, than why does it oppose measures that would make it harder for criminals to access firearms?

In 2011, 68 percent of homicides in the United States were a result of firearms.

So the NRA is almost right: guns don't kill people. People with guns kill people. You could even say bad people with guns kill people.

And the NRA kills bills that could keep these guns out of the hands of bad people. Why?

Nicole Faraguna

Herndon