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Posts Tagged ‘gun control’

The Promise: The Sandy Hook Families and the Long Road to Gun Safety

July 15th, 2013

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Just weeks after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary that killed 20 first-graders and six adults, the parents and families of some of the victims came to Washington. They were here to meet with the Vice President, cabinet members and Senators. But they didn’t come just to receive high-level condolences—they were here to wade into some of the roughest waters in American politics: the gun debate.

Third Way was called upon to help the families navigate those waters and master the policy and politics of guns. We have been working closely with them ever since.

Now, I’ve written about that experience in a new essay published by the Brookings Institution.

“The Promise”—the second installment in the new “Brookings Essay” series—is a multi-media, multi-platform, long-form product that explores the politics of guns in the context of Sandy Hook. It tracks the transformation of Sandy Hook Promise, the group that organized the families, from a deeply sympathetic victim-advocacy organization into a force to be reckoned with in the modern gun debate.

It’s quite a story, and Brookings has done a great job of making it come alive with illustrations, video, photos and other resources. I hope you’ll take a look.

Read “The Promise” by visiting www.brookings.edu/ThePromise.

Seeking consensus on immigration, guns

February 4th, 2013

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Two tough issues — immigration reform and gun control. “It won’t be easy,” President Barack Obama said about gun control in December, “but that’s no excuse not to try.”   Tuesday, he said about immigration reform: “The closer we get, the more emotional this debate is going to become.”

Which does he stand a better chance of winning?  Answer: immigration. On immigration, Obama has Democrats strongly behind him. Republicans are divided — and freaked out by the issue. On guns, he’s got Republicans strongly against him. Democrats are divided — and freaked out by the issue.

On both issues, the president has the public solidly behind him. That’s his biggest asset. “There’s already a growing consensus for us to build from,” he said on Dec. 19, five days after the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre. “A majority of Americans support banning the sale of military-style assault weapons.’’ On Jan. 29, when he went to Las Vegas to speak about immigration reform, he said, “A broad consensus is emerging and … a call for action can be heard coming from all across America.”

Even more important, the president’s popularity is soaring. He has a 60 percent favorable rating in the new Washington Post-ABC News poll, the highest since his first year in office.

The president intends to use the bully pulpit to rally public opinion behind both causes. He also intends to use his 2012 campaign organization, which has morphed from Obama for America to Organizing for Action, to browbeat Congress into action. Welcome to real the permanent campaign.

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Why gun control isn’t a lost cause

July 30th, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on The Washington Post.

Dozens of college students murdered in their classrooms; a member of Congress shot at point-blank range; innocents gunned down in a movie theater. Then, in the aftermath of a mass gun crime, the same ritual: national shock and anger, traumatized communities asking how this could happen, followed by … nothing. At least, no progress on gun safety.

In a speech to the Urban League on Wednesday, President Obama called for a conversation on youth violence and more steps to keep guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. But everyone, including Obama, has been pretty frank about it: No major new gun laws will result. Read the rest of this entry »

NRA is real winner on gun laws

July 23rd, 2012

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This piece was originally posted on Politico.

Nothing will happen. That seems to be the consensus among policy experts after the senseless tragedy in Aurora, Colo., last week.

In the past, after sensational instances of gun violence, whether it was a celebrated person getting shot or the massacre of innocent children, we’d see a surge of support for new gun control measures. No longer. We didn’t see much of a policy response to the shooting of Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Arizona last year or to the shooting of Trayvon Martin in Florida this year.

The National Rifle Association has won. It has succeeded in changing the national discussion from gun control to gun rights. How did that happen?

For one thing, Americans have lost confidence in gun control measures. Gallup has been polling on the issue since 1959. Last October, Gallup reported “support for a variety of gun control measures at historic lows.”

Should there be a law banning the possession of handguns except by the police and other authorized persons? In 1959, 60 percent said yes. In 2011, 26 percent said yes. Should it be illegal to manufacture, sell or possess assault weapons? Last year, for the first time, a majority of Americans said no.

Why the shift? Here’s one reason: By and large, Democrats have stopped talking about the gun issue. It’s too costly for them. In September 1994, the Democratic Congress passed an assault weapons ban and President Bill Clinton signed it. In November 1994, Democrats lost their majority in the House for the first time in 40 years. Clinton said the gun lobby had to lot to do with his party’s defeat.

Since 1994, Democrats have been skittish about the gun issue. The assault weapons ban was allowed to lapse in 2004. Getting it renewed has not been high on President Barack Obama’s agenda.

During the 2004 presidential campaign, I met with a group of voters in West Virginia. West Virginia used to be a solid New Deal Democratic state. The late Sen. Robert Byrd was the embodiment of that tradition. But in the last three presidential elections, West Virginia has gone Republican.

I asked the voters how many of them had health insurance. Only three out of 10 did. I asked them which candidate would be more likely to help the uninsured. Most of them said John Kerry, the Democrat. So were they planning to vote for Kerry? Almost all said no. “Why not?” I asked.

“We hear he wants to take away our guns,” one member of the group said.

“Are your guns more important than your health insurance?” I asked.

“Mister,” one woman replied, “our guns ARE our health insurance.”

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De-Mavericking McCain

April 28th, 2010

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This piece was originally published on The Huffington Post.

In the ongoing effort to de-maverick himself, yesterday’s news that he is a lead sponsor of a bill to eliminate DC’s gun laws must go down as the most spectacular and blatant reversal in Senator McCain’s political career:

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The Tea Partiers: Hating Big Brother

April 7th, 2010

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This piece was originally posted in National Journal.

What’s driving the ferocious backlash against health care reform?

Some see racism and bigotry. Anti-immigration sentiment is certainly a component of the backlash. The outburst by Rep. Joe Wilson, R-S.C., (“You lie!”) during President Obama’s health care speech in September to a joint session of Congress was triggered by the president’s statement that the legislation would not provide free coverage to illegal immigrants.

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