Dare we hope that this time it will be different?
As certain as there were calls for gun control following other mass shootings, it was equally certain that the gun lobby would browbeat politicians back to the status quo.
At this point, there is reason to hope for action on gun violence in response to the tragic shooting in Sandy Hook in which 20 children died.
Even pro-gun lawmakers from both Parties are showing signs of receptiveness to sensible gun control laws.
Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Joe Manchin, whose voting record earned them the NRA’s “top rating,” have backed off their “pro-gun” positions and declared that “everything must be on the table” for legislative debate.
Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Georgia) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) also made some encouraging comments.
Kingston told MSNBC that we “need to put gun control on the table”. According to a tweet by Dave Weigel; Graham “embraced” the idea that limiting the size of clips and magazines is worth “looking into.”
Senator Diane Feinstein introduced an updated version of the Assault Weapons Ban.
While I wouldn’t count on the NRA’s support, the combination of their silence following the shooting in Sandy Hook and their stated intent to offer “meaningful contributions” suggests that the tides of change are coming.
President Obama reaffirmed his intent to approach gun violence with a comprehensive approach, on several fronts including gun control, mental health, and the gun culture.
He called on Congress to reinstate the Assault Weapons ban.
The President established a new gun violence task force, headed by the Vice President, to provide Congress with a comprehensive set of policies within a month.
While Obama did not offer specifics, he suggested the task force would examine an array of steps to curb gun violence and prevent mass shootings, including legislative measures, mental health resources and a “look more closely at a culture that all-too-often glorifies guns and violence.
The President spoke of the need to make access to mental health treatment “at least as easy as access to guns“. He recognized that while this won’t be easy; we have to try.
I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Mr. Obama said. “It won’t be easy, but that can’t be an excuse not to try.
We also have reason to hope because Joe Biden will be heading the task force. Throughout his political career, Biden has a strong and consistent history advocating for gun control laws and other laws to prevent violence.
In 1994, he played an instrumental role in the Senate’s passage of The Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act . Biden also drafted the Violence Against Women Act provisions in the bill. He also has the moxy to stand up to obstructionist Republicans.
Several state lawmakers announced intentions to propose measures to close the gun show loophole.
According to The Houston Chronicle, Texas Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson will propose that people should undergo background checks upon entering a gun show By Patterson’s reasoning, this is a way to allay fears that the government is compiling a database of gun owners for some nefarious purpose.
“Just like when you go into a beer joint, they stamp your hand when you walk in and I can buy a beer if I want, but I don’t have to,” Patterson said.
In Missouri, State Representative Stacy Newman (D-Richmond Heights) announced that she will file legislation to close the gun show loophole in January.
Virginia State Senator Janet Howell, (D-Reston) also plans to introduce a bill to close the gun show loophole.
Certainly, there is reason to hope that this time will be different. This time we will see the gun show loophole closed. There is reason to hope that Senator Feinstein’s version of the Assault Weapons Ban will become law. We may even see passage of a bill restricting magazines and clips.
Perhaps we will see similar hope when it comes to improving access to treatment for mental illness. Maybe this time we will recognize that tragic consequences come with the glorification of guns and violence.
Image from Getty Images