Ad­vo­cates of gun con­trol push past Obama set­backs

Brady Law marks 20 years

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY NATHAN PORTER

Mark­ing the ap­proach of the 20th an­niver­sary of its en­act­ment, the group be­hind the fed­eral Brady Law on gun con­trol said Tues­day that it will press for more lim­its even af­ter Pres­i­dent Obama’s pro­posal stalled on Capi­tol Hill this year.

“We can look at what it took to pass the orig­i­nal Brady Law and say with con­fi­dence, ‘It will hap­pen.’ There are parts, in terms of tim­ing though, that are out­side of our di­rect con­trol,” Daniel Gross, pres­i­dent of the Brady Cam­paign to Pre­vent Gun Vi­o­lence, said in a brief­ing at the Na­tional Press Club. “We are close. It may not be tomorrow, but it will be, and we just need to stay the course.”

The Brady Cam­paign, named for the White House press sec­re­tary wounded in the as­sas­si­na­tion at­tempt on Pres­i­dent Rea­gan in 1981, has be­come the na­tion’s lead­ing gun con­trol ad­vo­cacy group. Af­ter the mass shoot­ing in New­town, Conn., in De­cem­ber, gun con­trol ad­vo­cates hoped to im­ple­ment ex­panded back­ground checks for in­di­vid­u­als seek­ing to pur­chase firearms.

De­spite a con­certed push led by Mr. Obama, the Se­nate in April voted down an amend­ment that would have ex­panded back­ground checks to ex­changes at gun shows and pri­vate online sales.

Op­po­nents of such leg­is­la­tion ar­gue that pro­hibit­ing guns will make Amer­i­cans more vul­ner­a­ble in crimes such as home in­va­sions. Strong sup­port for Sec­ond Amend­ment rights was high­lighted in the Colorado re­call elec­tion in Septem­ber in which two Demo­cratic state se­na­tors who voted in fa­vor of stricter gun laws were re­moved from of­fice.

The re­call was seen as a sig­nif­i­cant step back for the Brady Cam­paign and other gun con­trol or­ga­ni­za­tions and a sig­nif­i­cant step for­ward for the Na­tional Ri­fle As­so­ci­a­tion and other Sec­ond Amend­ment ad­vo­cacy groups.

Cam­paign founder and Chair­woman Sarah Brady re­it­er­ated to her or­ga­ni­za­tion’s sup­port­ers: “Don’t ever get dis­cour­aged. Don’t ever give up on this. We are right. The other side is not right, and we have to make the Amer­i­can peo­ple so aware of this that they’ll be be­hind us in ev­ery elec­tion.”

The gun de­bate has be­come one of the na­tion’s most po­lar­iz­ing is­sues.

Ac­cord­ing to a Gallup poll re­leased last month, “al­most half of Amer­i­cans be­lieve the laws cov­er­ing the sale of firearms should be strength­ened and half say they should stay the same or be less strict.”

The Brady Cam­paign gave the brief­ing at the end of its three­day con­fer­ence and lob­by­ing cam­paign to pres­sure Congress to move stricter gun leg­is­la­tion, in­clud­ing the scope of back­ground checks for gun sales that was the tar­get of the Brady Bill.

Mr. Gross said the mat­ter comes down to in­di­vid­u­als “tak­ing re­spon­si­bil­ity for the safety of their own homes, their com­mu­ni­ties and ul­ti­mately our na­tion.”

“I think we need to ac­knowl­edge that there are re­spon­si­ble gun own­ers,” said Mr. Gross. “You are not a bad per­son if you think bring­ing a gun into your home makes it safer. … You just are po­ten­tially mak­ing a very dan­ger­ous de­ci­sion in terms of the health and safety of your fam­ily.”

The Brady Bill, which in­sti­tuted fed­eral back­ground checks on some classes of firearm pur­chases, was signed by Pres­i­dent Clin­ton on Nov. 30, 1993.

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