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

m-ville123

Im saying the gun show's are a loop hole a really big one. Anyone who sells guns at a permanent address has to have a FFL which stands for Federal Firearms License. But these traveling circus shows who make a living off of driving around and selling fire arms don't have to file for a FFL because they found a loop hole to avoid having to file they also avoid paying taxes. I was just Getting My My's facts straight for him when he went off on a subject that no one even brought up.

propman

m-ville,
Once again you have an inane and uneducated statement that shows you are regurgitating the liberal propaganda.
Every dealer at a gun show has an FFL. They still have to comply with the instant background check laws. Only private owners selling at the shows can not comply with it since it requires the FFL number to access.
Also the BATF has people watching the gun shows looking for any person selling a large number of guns without an FFL.

m-ville123

No they don't you liar. now I know for a fact that your full of it. have you ever been to Kenton I'm guessing not.

propman

The Kenton Coondog Trials is a flea market and dog show. Yes there are guns for sale there from some private sellers and a few gun dealers with FFLs and those have to comply with ALL laws concerning sales.
By the way expect to pay way too much for them.
But if you want iron pots/skillets, army surplus, crafts and dog training supplies it is a great place
Another inane attempt m-ville.

hit the road jack

Not only that,if you buy a gun at Kenton you should be careful usually they have something wrong with them or their hot.

hit the road jack

Kenton,where all good Monroevillians go to see their relation they haven't seen in a year,kinda like a hillbilly reunion.

m-ville123

Ok so your saying I' m right. They have thousands of guns for sale there. There are hundreds of shows just like It in the state each year. It is a loophole, thats all I'm saying. Yea another inane attempt and you prove me right.

Dr. Information

Those dang cars. They kills thousands of innocent lives each year. Ban them too. Also ban, boats and jet skis. A lot of innocent lives taken each year too.

Dr. Information

Buy guns and ammo. Stock up. It's your right. Not only may you be faced one day when the government tried to take guns off the shelves but crime is up drastically nationwide. I sleep sound at night knowing my handgun is locked and loaded. All you anti gun people, good luck defending your home and family with a pocket knife.

m-ville123

That's good that your hand gun is locked and loaded but where's your AR at? No one said that pistols should be illegal, but if you need a assault rifle that shoots off 30 rounds in ten seconds to defend your self, I think you should go to the target range a little more often. Don't get me wrong I would never argue with someone that has a PhD in information but if that same person goes around calling people retards I could only assume that they would raise the same kind of kids that would shoot up a school.

Dr. Information

ban swimming pools too.......

m-ville123

Blah Blah Blah I never thought of it that way. Lets make Heroin and Crack legal. The people have a right to do any drugs they wish. There's no law in the constitution prohibiting it. Hell it doesn't say anything about drinking and driving on that old piece of paper either. That's it i'm heading to the bar now. And you know what, on my way home i'm ganna stop and grab me up one of them slaves. Its Christmas damnit.

propman

" that old piece of paper"?
That really shows your anti Americanism.
That piece of paper is the foundation of our laws in this Country.
Since you seem to want the Government to control/run everything in your life maybe you should move to North Korea or Iran.

hit the road jack

Amen,sounds like someone lives off the govt. or has been watching too much CNN (m-ville123) anyone who will refer to the constitution as an old piece of paper doesn't remember history class very well and should at least move to mexico to see what it would be like with no laws or constitution.

m-ville123

Yeah because Mexico has no laws. You're are the most ignorant person I have ever dealt with. And yes the constitution is a set of laws written on a 225 year old piece of paper, Which to anyone would qualify as old.

hit the road jack

No,your wrong,your the brain dead clown! you have drank way too much flouride,your brain is well beyond repair and the constitution is the only thing that has kept this country from people who think like you from turning it upside down like whats happening now.

m-ville123

what am I wrong about Jack? Are you even aware of what your talking about?

hit the road jack

Yea,I do but you don't! I know a few people from monroeville,and they aren't too bad of people,but you? I can see who 1 of the retards who voted in a 34 year school levy,good place for you to be(monroeville)just glad you don't live close to me.

m-ville123

Your right I am totally unaware of what your saying. But Trust me just knowing that you don't live close to me is going to make me sleep much better tonight. And I was not one that voted on the levy.

m-ville123

And also I am impressed by your choice of politically correct name calling.

hit the road jack

Why thank you,Richard Cranium.

m-ville123

Ouch. That burns

propman

That "piece of paper" was new when it was written on.
The ideals written on it have stood the test of time because they did vey well at keeping the power in the hands of the PEOPLE.
Today the power hungry in government are busy twisting those words in self serving ways.
If we allow that then we fail not our Founding Fathers but more importantly our following generations.

m-ville123

You're right we will just have to see what the people do about it. Believe or not the power hungry government is elected by the people and for the people.

m-ville123

Yea way to look past the point. I would expect nothing less from someone who only gets his information from Fox news. Propman do you think it should be legal to buy RPG's and IED's.

propman

If anyone wants to own a 155mm Howitzer the Government has no legal reason to know they have it but, should they use it in the commission of a crime then upon conviction should be swinging from a rope in front of the Courthouse.
Every Gun law is unconstitutional due to the "SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED" part of the 2nd amendment.
When someone is sentenced for a crime or committed for mental illness the Judge adding a prohibition against that person from owning , carrying or using a firearm IS Constitutional.

Dr. Information

@m-ville.......Ahhh the old Fox News, Glenn Beck, Hanity comeback. Dude that card is OLDDDDDDDDD and one you continuously use like a broke record. You obviously cannot win the argument because as soon as you slip, you revert to old tactics that just don't work. Blame Fox News...or better yet blame Bush. Oh thats right, thats your next comment, oops, I spoiled it for you.

m-ville123

Just stating that you shouldn't get your news straight from one source is all. Especially the smut Fox calls news. Hey Doc how does it feel to live your life in fear everyday, knowing that today may be your last. What ever you do don't drink the tap water. The government puts fluoride in it to use as mind control. I think it turns people into democrats.

m-ville123

And Busch rocked man. I had a blast during his 8 years. I don't think he could of done any better as a president. Now if only that old fart McCain and the one hot broad got elected It would be a whole different America. Hey can i get a picture of you holding your AR 15 and a ice cold Busch Lite, wearing a orange trucker hat so you can only see the back of your mullet? I want to put it on a shirt and have it say AMERICA over top of the picture.

Dr. Information

@m-ville....heck yeah buddy!!!!!

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