Tighter gun control will save children's lives

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Right after Newtown, President Obama proposed a bill to ban assault rifles, a moderate, simple and stunningly obvious beginning to better gun control. It died in Congress. Every overture toward remediating the gun problem in America has been met by the gun lobby’s well-financed resistance.

Last week, the morning after the State of the Union address, in which the president said he would resurrect the gun control initiative, a group of Democratic lawmakers, led by Reps. Alan Lowenthal and Mike Thompson of California and Elizabeth Esty of Connecticut (Newtown’s district) began a new push. They issued a resolution stating that gun violence is a public health issue and called for an expansion of enforceable background checks for all commercial gun sales, “improving the mental health system in the United States, and making gun trafficking a federal crime.”

Esty said she promised her constituents that she would fight on their behalf to reduce gun violence. But politics as usual portends business as usual in our impotent Congress. Four Senate Democrats face challenging contests in conservative states. It is unlikely, therefore, that there will be support for stricter gun control.

Even so, people who won’t take no for an answer press on. Groups like Americans for Responsible Solutions, launched by former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, Capt. Mark Kelly, continue to fight for tighter laws. The group paid for television ads before and after Obama’s address, accusing Congress of bowing to the demands of the gun lobby. According to the Huffington Post, groups run by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Giffords and other gun-control advocates intend to spend more than $25 million in 2014, most of it in the states. Their strategy is to pressure state legislatures and pursue ballot initiatives for stricter gun laws, as well as to defend or attack politicians in this fall’s campaigns based on their gun votes, the officials said.

It’s easy to feel discouraged when faced with the resistance by the NRA after the appalling Newtown tragedy. How many deaths does it take?
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