The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

April 21, 2013

Gun control forces seek new path after big loss

WASHINGTON — It was a powerful moment on the White House lawn when thousands of guests, the loved ones of slain crime victims among them, crowded in as President Bill Clinton signed a sweeping crime bill that was six years in the making and included a hotly disputed ban on assault weapons.

“Today, at last, the waiting ends,” Clinton said on that day in 1994. “Today, the bickering stops, the era of excuses is over.”

Hardly.

Two decades and so many gun tragedies later, the political fallout from that long-gone assault weapons ban still casts a long shadow over Washington.

Gun-control advocates are scrambling to regroup after losing soundly to the National Rifle Association on their best opportunity in years to tighten gun laws. There’s no shortage of finger-pointing about what went wrong for them or theories about what to do next.

It was a grim-faced President Barack Obama who stood in the Rose Garden with a handful of family members of those slain at Newtown, Conn., after the Senate last week rejected background checks and other gun restrictions, including a new assault weapons ban.

“I see this as just round one,” the president said, raw emotion in his voice. “Sooner or later, we are going to get this right.”

But if the carnage at Newtown, the pleas of grieving family members and the persuasions of an engaged president weren’t enough to push gun restrictions through Congress, the road ahead is sure to be difficult for those advocating tighter controls.

The NRA is powerful as ever and poised to stand firm for the long haul. Sentiment for stricter gun laws, which rose after the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, has slipped somewhat in recent weeks. Obama’s willingness to stick with the issue in a big way when he has immigration, budget and other pressing matters on his agenda is uncertain.

In the immediate aftermath of the latest votes, with legislative strategy up in the air, gun control advocates are pinning their best hopes on two broad paths forward:

n Trying to counter the NRA’s impressive grass-roots network of nearly 5 million members by summoning more passion and energy from people who support restrictions such as an expansion of background checks for gun purchasers. Unless public demand for tougher gun laws “becomes a permanent fixture in politics to counterbalance the NRA, it’s only going to be by luck and happenstance that gun control actually wins,” said Dartmouth government professor Ron Shaiko, who has written extensively about the lobbying industry.

n Strengthening gun laws at the state level, where gun control advocates have had a number of significant victories in the months since Sandy Hook. “We’re seeing leadership that is coming from the states, and we’re going to be there to help that momentum and to make sure that momentum is felt here in this city, in Washington,” said Mark Kelly, who founded a gun control group with his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, after she was shot by a gunman in Arizona two years ago.

The NRA is digging in for a long fight and claiming public support naturally trends its way.

“There’s a big misconception out there that gun rights are where they are because of the NRA,” said NRA spokesman Andrew Arulanandam. “The reality is that majority of Americans support gun rights and support self-defense laws.”

Polls paint a mixed picture.

In an Associated Press-GfK poll this month, 49 percent favored stricter gun laws, 10 percent wanted less-strict laws and 38 percent thought things should remain as they are. The poll found some slippage in support for stricter laws from earlier in the year.

Text Only
World, nation, state
  • Lower-income teens don’t get enough sleep

    African-American high school students and boys in low- to middle-income families reported short, fragmented sleep, and that could play a role in their health risks, researchers reported Monday.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • Health agencies try to counter mumps outbreak

    Health agencies trying to stem a large and growing mumps outbreak are advising college, school and even day care leaders to make sure central Ohio students are immunized and to separate them from those who haven’t been vaccinated and those who are infected.
     

    April 23, 2014

  • An ocean of broken hearts

    Lee Byung-soo says he knew, when he saw his 15-year-old son’s body in the tent. It could not have been more horrifically obvious. But he wanted so much for him to be alive.

    April 22, 2014

  • Biden conferring with Ukranian leader over what to do
    U.S. Vice President Joe Biden arrived in Kiev on Monday for talks with Ukraine’s embattled interim leaders as Russia’s top diplomat blamed Washington for instigating the crisis that threatens to escalate into armed conflict between the two former Soviet republics.
     

    April 22, 2014

  • Panel’s role in Cleveland police ruling questioned

    A lawyer for families of men killed in separate 2012 shootings by Cleveland police — including a 137-bullet chase under federal investigation — is questioning a grand jury’s role in a recent county prosecutor’s ruling.

    April 21, 2014

  • Gender gap under Ohio governor nearly $10 an hour

    A newspaper investigation has found the average pay gap between men and women in the offices of four of Ohio’s five elected statewide officials has grown to as much as almost $10 an hour, as it’s shrunk to under a dollar across the rest of state government.

    April 21, 2014

  • OBIT Rubin Carter Box_Lind.jpg Boxer Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dies at 76

    Rubin “Hurricane” Carter, the boxer whose wrongful murder conviction became an international symbol of racial injustice, died Sunday. He was 76.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • MAG-kramer25p-Janae-O-Neal.jpg Kramer the labradoodle soothes students, staff at middle school

    Once upon a time there was a dog that went to middle school.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ohio sees record high heroin overdose deaths

    A record number of Ohioans died from heroin-related overdoses in 2012, the state Department of Health said as it released the newest available figures for a problem that’s been called an epidemic and a public health crisis.
     

    April 19, 2014

  • Ohio’s jobless rate dips to 6.1 percent in March

    Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped in March to 6.1 percent, its lowest level in six years, according to state job figures released Friday.

    April 19, 2014

House Ads
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video