After 13 people were shot to death at Colorado’s Columbine High School in 1999, Democrats led a drive in Congress to pass tougher gun laws. Some of those same politicians are lining up with the National Rifle Association to soften gun regulations, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Congress recently voted to require speedier destruction of gun purchase records; the renewal of a 1994 law banning some assault-style weapons faces an uphill battle; yesterday, the Senate debated a measure shielding gun makers and sellers from lawsuits by gunshot victims.
The reason for the shift is fear, said Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), lead author of the assault weapons ban. “When I came to Washington, everybody said: ‘You’ve got to watch out for Big Business and Big Oil. They’re the big lobbies.’ Wrong. It’s Big Guns.” Sens. John F. Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards of North Carolina have supported gun control, but they are not raising the issue on the campaign trail this year. Al Gore may have lost support in 2000 in pivotal rural states because he supported tough gun control. After that election, “common wisdom in the Democratic Party was that you had better not talk about guns,” said Deborah Barron of Americans for Gun Safety. Kerry talks about his experience as a hunter. Edwards says he supports the 2nd Amendment and that he believes in the right to bear arms.
The NRA backs the gun liability bill, which has passed the House and is supported by President Bush, most Senate Republicans, and at least 10 Democrats, including Democratic Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Wayne LaPierre, the NRA’s executive vice president, said the Democratic leadership “decided the gun control issue was a dead end.”