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Washington - Gun Control Advocates Press Obama To Turn Tears To Action

Published on: December 15, 2012 08:01 PM
By: AP
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A supporter of gun control holds a sign that reads, 'We Love You Mr. President, Please Put Gun Control on the Agenda' outside the White House in Washington DC, USA, 15 December 2012.  Reports state on 14 December 2012 that a gunman unleashed a hail of gunfire that killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, a quiet, affluent suburb of 27,500 people about 100 kilometres north-east of New York City. He then killed himself inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, having previously killed his mother.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDSA supporter of gun control holds a sign that reads, 'We Love You Mr. President, Please Put Gun Control on the Agenda' outside the White House in Washington DC, USA, 15 December 2012.  Reports state on 14 December 2012 that a gunman unleashed a hail of gunfire that killed 20 children and six adults at a school in Newtown, a quiet, affluent suburb of 27,500 people about 100 kilometres north-east of New York City. He then killed himself inside Sandy Hook Elementary School, having previously killed his mother.  EPA/MICHAEL REYNOLDS

Washington - The question surfaces each time a mass murder unfolds: Will this one change the political calculus in Washington against tougher gun control?

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The answer, after the Virginia Tech killings, the attempted assassination of Gabby Giffords, the Colorado movie-theater attack, the Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings, and more: No.

But now?

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., the bloodiest attack against youngsters in the nation’s history, stands as a possible tipping point after Washington’s decade-long aversion even to talking about stricter gun laws.

So it seems in the stunned aftermath, judging from President Barack Obama’s body language as much as his statement. “We have been through this too many times,” said the famously composed president, this time moved to tears. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.”

It remains to be seen whether Sandy Hook will break the usual cycle of universal shock fading into political reality. That reality is based on a combination of powerful gun lobbying and public opinion, which has shifted against tougher gun control and stayed that way. However lawmakers react this time, it’s the president’s call whether the issue fades again or takes its place alongside the legacy-shaping initiatives of his time, with all the peril that could mean for his party.

With the murder rate less than half what it was two decades ago, and violent crime down even more in that time, gun control has declined as a political issue.

But New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, a gun control advocate, heard the familiar in Obama’s initial response, despite the striking emotion.

“Not enough,” Bloomberg said of Obama’s words. “We have heard all the rhetoric before. What we have not seen is leadership - not from the White House and not from Congress. That must end today.”

The Newtown shooter brought three guns into the school, and the weapons were registered to his slain mother, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss information with reporters and spoke on condition of anonymity. The official said a Glock and a Sig Sauer, both pistols, and a .223-caliber Bushmaster rifle were found in the school after the attack, and a fourth weapon was recovered outside.

One certainty in the weeks to come is that both parties in Washington will carefully watch public opinion on gun control and the Second Amendment, and whether any impact lasts.

Opposition to stricter laws has proved resilient. Firearms are in one-third or more of households and suspicion runs deep of an overbearing government whenever it proposes expanding federal authority. The argument of gun-rights advocates that firearm ownership is a bedrock freedom as well as a necessary option for self-defense has proved persuasive enough to dampen political enthusiasm for substantial change.

In July, a gunman opened fire on Aurora, Colo., theatergoers watching the Batman movie, “The Dark Knight Rises,” killing 12 people. The next month, an Associated Press-National Constitution Center poll found that 49 percent of Americans felt laws limiting gun ownership infringe on the right to bear arms, while only 43 percent said such laws do not infringe on those rights.

By many measures, Americans have changed on the question since the 1990s, when people favored gun control over gun rights - by a 2-to-1 margin in polling after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado. In a Gallup poll last year, 55 percent said gun laws should stay the same or be more lenient, while 43 percent wanted them toughened.

None of this is lost on Washington, where most Democrats long ago abandoned their advocacy of gun control, convinced that it is a losing issue for them. Obama has proposed reinstituting a federal ban on military-style assault weapons that lapsed years ago, but he’s put no weight behind it, while signing laws letting people carry concealed weapons in national parks and in checked bags on Amtrak trains.

After the movie-theater attack, Obama declared “we should leave no stone unturned” to keep young people safe in a speech indicating he would challenge Congress to act on gun control. That expectation lasted for one day. The White House swiftly clarified that Obama would not propose stiffer gun laws this election year and favored more effective enforcement of existing law - a position hardly distinguishable from that of his Republican rival, Mitt Romney.

Likewise, early last year, Obama weighed in on guns after an assailant killed six people and wounded 13, shooting then-Rep. Giffords in the head outside a grocery store in Tucson, Ariz. The president called for “sound and effective steps” in gun laws as part of a “new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people.” He soon went back to silence on the topic and gun-control advocates waited in vain for the steps.

With his last presidential campaign behind him, Obama is freer to take up contentious matters that he wouldn’t touch when he was an incumbent seeking re-election. Odds are favorable that he will have at least one vacancy to fill on a Supreme Court now closely divided on gun cases.

The Aurora attack happened in the heat of the campaign, when Democrats wanted no trouble from gun owners. In its first official response to the killings, Obama’s White House pledged to protect fundamental gun rights. Obama and his spokesmen never failed to couple his wish for “common-sense measures” with his devotion to the Second Amendment.

But after the massacre of children Friday, Obama spoke mainly of the anguish, and the need for action, and not at all about the right to bear arms.

By the standards of gun-control politics, that alone was a crack in the status quo.

 

 


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1

 Dec 15, 2012 at 08:40 PM OyGevald Says:

Gun Control?
That's why so many were killed!
If the school staff had at least one gun, there may not have been 2+ kids dead.
Gun Control has restricted honest citizens from protecting thensleves. Crooks always find ways to get weapons so Gun Control won't stop the bad guys.

2

 Dec 15, 2012 at 09:22 PM Advocating for what's right... Says:

Reply to #1  
OyGevald Says:

Gun Control?
That's why so many were killed!
If the school staff had at least one gun, there may not have been 2+ kids dead.
Gun Control has restricted honest citizens from protecting thensleves. Crooks always find ways to get weapons so Gun Control won't stop the bad guys.

Agreed...but, if upstanding, bonafide citizens were permitted to carry weapons, to use in exactly this type of situation, who will argue that it likely may have saved many lives....?? This country has its priorities sooo messed up, its beyond sad. It's downright frightening!!

3

 Dec 15, 2012 at 09:33 PM Butterfly Says:

There are so many guns on the street. If you get into an argument with somebody, you have to be fearful of the fact that he/she may be carrying a weapon!! In the street, subway, bus, whether it is a knife, gun , pea shooter, it is still a weapon!! They are all dangerous!! This kid had 2 or 3 guns!! When are we going to take them out of the hands of children and off the streets?

4

 Dec 15, 2012 at 09:39 PM ayinglefunadorf Says:

Reply to #1  
OyGevald Says:

Gun Control?
That's why so many were killed!
If the school staff had at least one gun, there may not have been 2+ kids dead.
Gun Control has restricted honest citizens from protecting thensleves. Crooks always find ways to get weapons so Gun Control won't stop the bad guys.

"Gun control? Thats why so many were killed." Under gun controll this dude and his idiot mother would have No GUNS. NOT one dead. Got it.

5

 Dec 15, 2012 at 10:17 PM bythebay Says:

Reply to #1  
OyGevald Says:

Gun Control?
That's why so many were killed!
If the school staff had at least one gun, there may not have been 2+ kids dead.
Gun Control has restricted honest citizens from protecting thensleves. Crooks always find ways to get weapons so Gun Control won't stop the bad guys.

More likely, more guns on campus would have meant more shots fired by the inexperienced close to innocent children, ch'v. A security guard is the only one who should be packing a gun in an elementary school.

6

 Dec 15, 2012 at 10:40 PM Anonymous Says:

Comment number 1 is an example of a "Zombie blesser". We do not need an armed society. We need a safe society. And no, we do not expect elementary school teachers to be armed. Good luck.

7

 Dec 15, 2012 at 10:44 PM Mark Levin Says:

The typical liberal argument is that with less guns, there will be less gun violence. Of course, because the murderers ALWAYS follow the law and won't kill anymore. These knee jerk liberals don't get that if someone is crazy enough to kill, they WILL find a way. If it isn't a gun, it will be a knife, a car, a plane. Do I need to go on?

You can't bring proof from the extreme.

8

 Dec 16, 2012 at 02:04 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
Mark Levin Says:

The typical liberal argument is that with less guns, there will be less gun violence. Of course, because the murderers ALWAYS follow the law and won't kill anymore. These knee jerk liberals don't get that if someone is crazy enough to kill, they WILL find a way. If it isn't a gun, it will be a knife, a car, a plane. Do I need to go on?

You can't bring proof from the extreme.

Japan and Hong Kong have laws against guns and their respective crime rate by murder is reportedly much less.

9

 Dec 16, 2012 at 06:44 AM georgewashingtonbridge Says:

Do you trust the same government that upheld a twenty-seven year sentence against Rubashkin for accounting crimes (how many years do rapists get), and is criminalizing 32 ounce sodas, to ensure that only good people own guns?

10

 Dec 16, 2012 at 09:11 AM Kzler Says:

Reply to #1  
OyGevald Says:

Gun Control?
That's why so many were killed!
If the school staff had at least one gun, there may not have been 2+ kids dead.
Gun Control has restricted honest citizens from protecting thensleves. Crooks always find ways to get weapons so Gun Control won't stop the bad guys.

OyGevald about your nonsense. Now you are able to buy guns and ammunition online anyone sane or insane. The weapons used were a SigSauer[Swiss-German]deadly gun and a Glock also used by law enforcenment. Prohibit and curtail the willy nilly sale of these deadly weapons. Maybe you should be be forced to watch the execution of Jews by Nazis and you would run as soon as possible to see mental professional to straighten out your twisted mind. Presenty there is no gun control

11

 Dec 16, 2012 at 09:36 AM Kzler Says:

Reply to #9  
georgewashingtonbridge Says:

Do you trust the same government that upheld a twenty-seven year sentence against Rubashkin for accounting crimes (how many years do rapists get), and is criminalizing 32 ounce sodas, to ensure that only good people own guns?

You are a fool or insane comparing soda to the use of Glocks and SigSauer

12

 Dec 16, 2012 at 10:57 AM IJK12 Says:

After all said & done, Guns don't kill! People kill!

13

 Dec 16, 2012 at 11:16 AM Kzler Says:

Reply to #7  
Mark Levin Says:

The typical liberal argument is that with less guns, there will be less gun violence. Of course, because the murderers ALWAYS follow the law and won't kill anymore. These knee jerk liberals don't get that if someone is crazy enough to kill, they WILL find a way. If it isn't a gun, it will be a knife, a car, a plane. Do I need to go on?

You can't bring proof from the extreme.

The murderer was an insane person just as your rehearsed response of liberals versus conservative is insane and sheer nonsense. The man was insane and insane persons should not have access to firearms. Yes they may find a way but firearms is the most efficient way of mass killing

14

 Dec 16, 2012 at 11:49 AM Buchwalter Says:

Reply to #12  
IJK12 Says:

After all said & done, Guns don't kill! People kill!

Yes but guns make people more efficient killers and insane persons have no business to be possession and gubns are not chewing gum to be sold over the inernet. Without a gun Lanza could not have killed so many and stop ruminating the same gun lobby nonsense . Are you Jews?

15

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