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Tommy Guns, FDR, the NRA, and the Supreme Court: Gun Control's Origins, Future Tommy Guns, FDR, the NRA, and the Supreme Court: Gun Control's Origins...

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Tommy Guns, FDR, the NRA, and the Supreme Court: Gun Control's Origins, Future

The Political Landscape is a weekly conversation with National Journal writers, editors and outside experts on the news of the day.


In a press conference Wednesday, President Obama spoke out strongly in favor of a renewed exploration of new federal gun control legislation. 

"It's encouraging that people of all backgrounds and beliefs and political persuasions have been willing to challenge some old assumptions and change longstanding positions," Obama said. "That conversation has to continue, but this time the words need to lead to action."

Vice President Joe Biden will be in charge of an interagency effort, as the President said, "to come up with a set of concrete proposals, no later than January, which I intend to push without delay."


Obama's statements come on the heels of several prominent senators speaking in favor of renewed gun control efforts in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

There has not been significant federal legislative action on the gun control front since 1994's Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, which established the background check system for individuals wishing to purchase firearms. Eventually, this became the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, which the FBI launched on Nov. 30, 1998.

But for the first time since the mid 1990s, gun control might not be a non-starter for members of Congress. As Fawn Johnson writes on this week, at least two regulations suddenly have a realistic chance of getting through Congress: a ban on large-capacity magazine clips and a tightening of background checks for gun purchasers.

On this week's episode, we explore the progression of federal gun control from bipartisan issue to verboten topic in Congress. Adam Winkler, a professor at UCLA School of Law, constitutional law expert, and the author of Gunfight: The Battle over the Right to Bear Arms in America, will join us to explain how President Franklin D. Roosevelt was more concerned than the National Rifle Association (NRA) about violating the Second Amendment. And how an NRA leadership coup in 1977 changed all of that. We'll go over each major federal gun control law, and Winkler will give input on what legislation might pass today and why the Supreme Court won't stop it. 


Check out last week's episode, "How Al-Qaida in Yemen Became the Biggest Terrorist Threat to the U.S."

Check out all episodes of the Political Landscape.

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