Gun Fight on Capitol Hill

Posted on January 10, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , |

By Scott Orr

Last week, the children of Sandy Hook Elementary School returned to classes for the first time since that awful day in December when a gunman stormed their school and claimed 26 lives. On the same day, the 113th Congress was sworn in.

What happened in Newtown, Conn., is reverberating in Washington, giving new impetus to efforts to tighten federal gun laws. Hearings are on the way, but first up will be legislation to ban large ammunition feeders like the one used in the Connecticut massacre.

For his part, President Obama has vowed to make toughening federal gun laws a priority and he has asked Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force to seek ways to curb gun violence.

“The question is are we going to be able to have a national conversation and move something through Congress,” Obama said on NBC’s Meet The Press.

“I’d like to get it done in the first year. I will put forward a very specific proposal based on the recommendations that Joe Biden’s task force is putting together as we speak. And so this is not something that I will be putting off,” he said.

Getting action, though, won’t be easy as the National Rifle Association and its many backers on the Hill have already signaled that they don’t see gun control as a solution to the mass slayings that have occurred with startling frequency in recent years.

It puts Republicans in a tough place. There’s no doubt that they share the national grief over what happened in Newtown, it’s just that they don’t see new gun laws as the solution. They note, correctly, that tighter federal gun laws would not have prevented the Newtown tragedy since the weapons used in the attack were legally purchased by the shooter’s mom.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the incoming chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees gun laws, told Roll Call that Congress will have a role in seeking ways to curb gun violence.

“We’re going to take a look at what happened there (in Newtown) and what can be done to help avoid it in the future,” he said, adding that “gun control is not going to be something that I would support.”

Still, Democrats, especially long time advocates of tougher gun control like Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), are hoping that the public anguish over this latest tragedy will be enough to prod Congress to action.

“The tragedy in Newtown may very well be the tipping point in America for addressing the scourge of gun violence. As more and more Americans step up to say that our gun laws are broken, President Obama is right that ‘words need to lead to action,’” Lautenberg said.

When the NRA says no federal law would have prevented what happened in Connecticut, we agree. At the same time, though, we believe some violent acts can be avoided through common sense gun control and we hope Congress will seek such solutions.

Turner GPA is a leading D.C.-based national lobbying and government affairs firm dedicated to delivering cutting edge policy advocacy for the manufacturing, defense, aerospace, health and energy industries. Members of our professional policy team can be reached at (202) 466-2511. We are also on the Web at

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