gun reform

Democratic governors fear gun reform moment has passed

by JONATHAN MARTIN. Politico.com  |  published on March 2, 2013

Gun-control advocates hoped the shattering December murder of 20 first-graders in Newtown, Conn., would upend the de facto non-aggression pact on federal gun laws that both political parties have consented to in the last decade. But now that expanded background checks seem to be the only initiative that may pass Congress, the most powerful bloc of gun-control proponents in the country is conceding that the gripping sense of outrage following the Sandy Hook massacre has ebbed.

Democratic governors fault Washington lawmakers for not acting more aggressively but, more strikingly, some even point a finger at Americans themselves for not keeping up the pressure on elected officials.

“I think the public outrage at this has somewhat waned and that makes the consensus harder to achieve,” said Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, adding: “[S]adly, after the funerals, for too many of us as Americans, our attention turns to other things and that makes it harder to achieve the consensus, and nothing moves terribly fast in Washington anyway.”

O’Malley, who has been one of the loudest voices for gun restrictions, recalled that he and former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell both predicted after Sandy Hook that there would be a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban within six months.

“It hasn’t happened,” said O’Malley.

Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was also governor in the 1990s during similar shooting sprees, also cited the now-familiar pattern of demands for action abating as the months pass following the tragedies and pro-gun forces mount aggressive lobbying campaigns.

“The same thing happened after Columbine, same thing happened after Thurston in Oregon a number of years ago: there’s this big coverage peak, people get outraged and a few days later the anti-gun control people begin to emerge and then there’s a distance,” Kitzhaber said.

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