In aftermath of Connecticut school massacre, what will Congress do about guns?

Fierce lobbying and political concerns become paramount when it comes to changes to gun-control laws.
Wire
Dec 18, 2012
The horrific Connecticut shootings are likely to change the tone of Congress’ debate over gun control and other efforts to curb violence.

But don’t look for big changes in those laws.

The Friday massacre of 26 people, including 20 children, at Sandy Hook Elementary School has shaken lawmakers like few events in recent years. Its emotional impact is comparable in recent years only to the attempted 2011 assassination of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., but this incident has been even more jarring to members of Congress and the political world.

History shows that shocks like this often result in incremental changes to gun-control laws but little more, as fierce lobbying and political concerns become paramount.

The failures to achieve major changes are mired in the kind of politics that has stifled action on controversial gun-control measures for years. The nation remains divided over how or whether to regulate firearms, and the gun lobby remains one of the Capitol’s most powerful.

The National Rifle Association alone spent more than 10 times as much as gun-control groups on lobbying last year and in the first nine months of this year, according to data compiled by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

The center found that last year was the most active election cycle in a dozen years for gun interest groups, as they gave $3 million to candidates, 96 percent of them Republicans, through mid-October. Gun-control groups barely registered, giving only $4,000, all to Democrats.

The gun lobby was unrelenting Monday. Eric Pratt, spokesman for Gun Owners of America, said if there’s to be a discussion on gun legislation it “should lead to a greater ability to protect one’s self. . . . Sadly, they (gun-control advocates) will try to exploit this to make people less safe.”

Some Republicans agreed. Said Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas: “I wish to God she (the Sandy Hook principal) had had an M-4 (rifle) in her office,” so she could have taken it out and “takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids.”

Democrats countered with quick calls for gun-control action.

“We should stop making emotional room in our hearts for each year’s new round of public shootings and killing sprees,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.

Monday, though, two developments gave gun-control advocates new hope. Many Democrats, including President Barack Obama, who for years have been reluctant to speak out for tougher gun laws, aren’t holding back.

“I actually think things could change. The terrible nature of this shooting has the potential to transform the national debate,” said Darrell West, vice president and director of governance studies at Washington’s Brookings Institution.

There were some signs Monday that was occurring. “This has changed the dialogue, and it should move beyond the dialogue. We need action,” Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., an avid hunter, said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Getting results, though, won’t be easy.

“I think that between election results and court decisions that a consensus has been settled on both sides that gun control is a non-starter,” said Keith Appell, a Virginia-based Republican strategist.

Appell said the Connecticut shooting will prompt gun-control advocates to produce legislation, “but it probably will not result in anything.”

Some Republicans steered their comments toward the problems of mental illness rather than gun violence.

“We must focus on the root cause of such disasters and not the means by which they enact their despicable deeds,” said Rep. Renee Ellmers, R-N.C., in a prepared statement.

Among those urging quick action was Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., architect of a 1994 assault weapons ban in the wake of a 1989 elementary school shooting in Stockton, Calif., that left five students dead and 29 others and a teacher wounded. That ban expired in 2004, and Feinstein plans to mount a new effort.

Also pushing will be Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., whose husband was killed during a mass shooting on the Long Island Railroad in 1993. She urged strengthening of background checks for gun buyers.

Lawmakers also renewed their pleas to tone down media violence. For years, Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and his allies have called attention at this time of year to entertainment violence. In the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, Lieberman wants a national commission to study the matter.

It doesn’t make everybody more violent. But it’s a causative factor in some cases,” he told Fox News. “We’ve got to ask the entertainment industry, ‘What are you going to do to try to tone that down?’ “

They have some political wind behind them.

“In the coming days and weeks, we will engage in a meaningful conversation and thoughtful debate about how to change laws and culture that allow violence to grow,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., vowed Monday.

Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corp. owns conservative Fox News, tweeted, “When will politicians find courage to ban automatic weapons?” New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg this fall launched his Independence USA political action committee to support political candidates who share his views on several subjects, including tougher gun laws.

But advocates face daunting opposition and skepticism. A Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll this summer, after a mass shooting at an Aurora, Colo., movie theater, found only 51 percent of respondents favored stricter gun-control laws, while 47 percent were opposed. A CNN/ORC survey taken around the same time said 57 percent favored a ban on the manufacture, sale and possession of semiautomatic assault weapons, such as the AK-47, while 42 percent were opposed.

One of the last major pushes for gun control came in 1999, one month after the nation was stunned by the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, in which two heavily armed students killed 12 fellow students and a teacher and injured nearly two dozen others before committing suicide.

As part of a juvenile justice bill, Democrats pushed a plan to require background checks at gun shows and pawn shops. The vote in the Senate was a 50-50 tie, with Vice President Al Gore breaking the tie and allowing the change to pass.

The vote became political mythology — that Gore’s decision cost him valuable votes in his 2000 presidential bid, chilling gun-control talk by future Democratic White House hopefuls. Not only are longtime gun-control supporters ready to fight, perhaps with Obama’s help, but Republicans are in some disarray.

“The 2012 election shows Republicans need to reposition themselves,” said West of the Brookings Institution. As the party struggles to broaden its appeal, gun control could become attractive for certain Republicans.

So far, though, the evidence is scant. Sunday network talk shows reached out to key Republicans, but few were eager to talk.

“We tried to get a Republican from the Judiciary Committee” said Bob Schieffer, moderator of CBS’ “Face the Nation,” “but all of the members were either unavailable or said no.”

———

By David Lightman and William Douglas - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

©2012 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at www.mcclatchydc.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

 

Comments

mikeylikesit

cage him like a gravelle! i love it!

AlterEgo

Best quote ever in NR comments section...."caged him like a Gravelle"

propman

Here is a comment that needs shared-
Yes our Country has a very big problem with the crime of killing and it’s not caused by GUNS!
Abortions in the United States
Total number of abortions in the U.S. 1973 thru 2011 - 54.5 million+
234 abortions per 1,000 live births (according to the Centers for Disease Control)
Abortions per year - 1.2 million
Abortions per day - 3,288
Abortions per hour - 137
9 abortions every 4 minutes
1 abortion every 26 seconds
SHAME ON AMERICA!

To which I'll add-
What is a greater tragedy-
Some crazed homicidle idiot killing 20 children-
Our thousands of supposedly thoughtful women killing their babies for any reason last friday?

dontcare

I wish the shooter had been aborted

propman

Here are a few quotes for some thoughtful considerations-

When they took the 4th Amendment, I was quiet because I didn't deal drugs.
When they took the 6th Amendment, I was quiet because I am innocent.
When they took the 2nd Amendment, I was quiet because I don't own a gun.
Now they have taken the 1st Amendment, and I can only be quiet.
– Lyle Myhr

The police can't stop an intruder, mugger, or stalker from hurting you. They can pursue him only after he has hurt or killed you. Protecting yourself from harm is your responsibility, and you are far less likely to be hurt in a neighborhood of gun owners than in one of disarmed citizens – even if you don't own a gun yourself. – Harry Browne

Laws that forbid the carrying of arms... disarm only those who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes... Such laws make things worse for the assaulted and better for the assailants; they serve rather to encourage than to prevent homicides, for an unarmed man may be attacked with greater confidence than an armed man. - Thomas Jefferson's "Commonplace Book," 1774-1776, quoting from On Crimes and Punishment, by criminologist Cesare Beccaria, 1764

nina_pawpaw

If this individual had driven his pickup truck thru the window and wall of this school, he could have killed just as many children. I wonder if the "we have to regulate all the problems of the world" types would then try and ban pickup truck?

starryeyes83

Get off the abortion BS for Christs' sake, would ya?

The very fact that this stupid mother allowed him anywhere near a high powered rifle is a travesty. Let alone take him to a shooting range.

All the more reason to NOT allow collectors to have any assault weapons. Because it's too easy for them to fall into the wrong hands.

If I am an average, plain, old everyday civilian, why in the hell would I need to have an assualt rifle? And please don't split hairs about semi- auto vs. automatic.

Assault weapons should ONLY be for military and law enforcement.... but, It'll probably never happen. There's too many of them out there.

Seen it All

Timothy McVeigh did not use a gun.

He killed 168 innocent people, 19 of those were under the age of 6.

You can still get your hands on everything he used to create his bomb of mass destruction.

Guns are NOT the problem... these sick people will just find another way to go out in a blaze of glory!

Cliff Cannon

@ Seen it all : Amen

dontcare

At least they will have to find another way.

Dr. Information

Great come back. Half retarded but I expect no less

Cliff Cannon

@ dontcare: Yes,I see your point.
The soul-less,horrible, half humans who without remorse butcher innocents,will " have to find another way". No doubt,quite often these losers are lazy as well.So, I agree, having to find another way.Just might stop a massacre somewhere.


Still,guns are as American as hot dogs,apple pie and Chevrolet. So taking away America's guns,will never happen ( And I am neither a gun collector nor hunter)

dontcare

No one is talking about outlawing all guns. I am for home protection, just not with an ar15 and 100 round banana clips. If you need that, you should fulfill you fantasy by joining the army and not playing Rambo in the streets of America. I, for one, am a bit uncomfortable that some of the people on this blog have any type of weapon and I think they exemplify my point much better than I ever could.

propman

You obviously have not been watching the news or reading the paper lately

m-ville123

What news do you watch? I actually watch a number of news channel including Fox news and not once have I heard talk about banning pistols. Of course I haven't turned it on the blaze with Glenn Beck yet. I wonder what type of news he made up today.

jack langhals

Hey,they did act on it.They put the Nut in charge of The Nut House !

44846GWP

An asult weapons ban would not have stopped this killer, he still had two hand guns and could have killed the same amount of people. His mother is also to blame for not having the guns locked in a gun safe. New gun laws are just "feel good" bull sh-t, that will do nothing to stop these crimes. It's an old saying but true.."Guns don't kill people, people kill people".

AlterEgo

I am glad we stand on common ground on this.

Dr. Information

Ban AR type of rifles and whats next.....hand guns. Like 44846 said, handguns can fire as fast as you can pull your finger, and are deadly accurate within a short range ANDDD can be reloaded quicker than any AR type of rifle.

The problem is these kids. Coddled their whole life. Bubble wrapped and blinded from failure and when they are faced with real life situations, they flip because mommy and daddy have sheltered them from failure their whole life.

dontcare

right, then they grab a gun and kill someone or 26

Dr. Information

That's exactly what they do. Happening more and more. Broken kids who can't relate. Keep handing out pointless ribbons to the kids who finish 8 out of 8 in a basketball tourney. Keep sheltering kids from failure so that when they reach adulthood and actually fail, they snap and go nuts on everyone. Fact is this kid was going to the nut house because he was socially screwed up. So he kills his mom and wipes out a whole classroom. I'm sure he was taught at a very young age that you can't fail, that the world won't let you. No matter what place you finish there will always be a shiny trophy awaiting him. Parents are to soft these days. Take the tit away and let your kids fail and then help them learn from it.

Sitting In The ...

They need to seriously improve the help our fellow Americans are able to receive when battling mental health issues. If you ban guns they will just find another way of harming people.

hit the road jack

If they want everyone to get rid of semi-automatic hand guns I wonder if biden will get rid of his?

MY MY Why do th...

I would like any of these idiots that claim their is a gun show loop hole to say what this loop hole is. They won't. Do you know why? Their is NO LOOP HOLE. A private SALE IS NOT A LOOP HOLE. you are still REQUIRED TO CHECK THAT THE OTHER PERSON IS FROM THE SAME STATE FOR HANDGUN SALES. THIS IS NOT A LOOP HOLE. Might as well bring back prohibition because of drunk drivers.

dontcare

only if you're a licensed dealer. I could go to Jamies fleemarket and walk out with a car full of guns.

Dr. Information

That's exactly what the person was saying above. They do checks at any vendor site sale no matter where it is. Do you read or just post retarded things? Don't answer please.

m-ville123

you can go to the Kenton coon dog trials and by any gun you want not even have to give them your name, don't act like you know something when you don't. There is probably 100 other outings like that in the state every year.

Dr. Information

andddd these people are not licensed vendors now are they. That would be called a "private sale". Again, think before you speak.

m-ville123

My point being that its still a gun show. Its a gun show where anyone can go and buy unregistered weapons including assault rifles from drunk hillbillies traveling around from show to show. These guys do nothing but buy and sell weapons for a living and are not paying taxes. Sounds like a loop hole to me. Eat it Doc.

Dr. Information

Who said anything about non licensed gun shows? Nobody. You people really need to learn to think before you type. Anddddd I will add this. AR's are not cheap guns either. Its not like everyone has a grand or more to drop on an AR, whether it's a license vendor or a gun show. The point it "nothing" can be done about private sales. You can't run background checks at private sales because, well, they are private and nobody is going to do it. Are you suggesting that everyone that buys a gun from an non licensed vendor go straight down to the police department and run a background check. If so, Im sure you will find some great ocean front property in Arizona.

Pages