2013: The Year We Learned Gun Reform Is Impossible

The urgency wrought by 2012’s horrors yielded no tighter firearm restrictions from Congress.

Rabbi Andy Bachman (2nd R) participates in a protest outside Cerberus Capital Management, a financial firm that holds a majority stake in Freedom Group, a company that produces assault rifles, to call on them to divest in Freedom Group, on December 9, 2013 in New York City.
National Journal
Dustin Volz
Add to Briefcase
Dustin Volz
Dec. 10, 2013, 9:15 a.m.

Noth­ing in 2013 matched the hor­ror of Sandy Hook or Au­rora, but the year proved to be a dis­pir­it­ing one for gun-con­trol cru­saders hop­ing to cap­it­al­ize on the in­tense out­pour­ing of grief wrought by 2012’s shoot­ing mas­sacres.

After New­town, Pres­id­ent Obama gave an im­pas­sioned speech prom­ising to do everything in his power to pre­vent “more tra­gedies like this.” We’d watched these scenes of pub­lic mourn­ing be­fore — after Tuc­son, after Au­rora — but it was dif­fer­ent this time. Obama’s bold de­clar­a­tion that “we are not do­ing enough and we will have to change” seemed more force­ful than be­fore. And com­ing just six weeks after his reelec­tion, it seemed more pos­sible.

But once the Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation and oth­ers got a whiff of any ser­i­ous threat to fire­arm freedoms, they moneyed up. Al­though gun-con­trol groups spent five times as much on fed­er­al lob­by­ing in 2013 as they did in 2012, ac­cord­ing to data com­piled by the Sun­light Found­a­tion, gun-rights groups out­paced them by more than 7-to-1.

As usu­al, the NRA’s ef­forts paid off. Watered-down le­gis­la­tion that would have ex­pan­ded back­ground checks failed in the Sen­ate this past spring, and the is­sue re­took its place in Con­gress as a per­en­ni­al non­starter.

And the shoot­ings con­tin­ued.

But Con­gress de­livered gun-re­form ad­voc­ates one fi­nal 2013 dis­ap­point­ment this week. The Sen­ate on Monday voted to re­new the Un­detect­able Fire­arms Act just hours be­fore the 25-year-old law was set to ex­pire. The 10-year ex­ten­sion, which even the Na­tion­al Rifle As­so­ci­ation en­dorsed, is largely gen­teel. It keeps on the books a ban on fire­arms that can sneak through met­al de­tect­ors, but ef­forts by Sen. Chuck Schu­mer, D-N.Y., to close what he called a “dan­ger­ous loop­hole” al­low­ing a per­son to use 3-D print­ing tech­no­logy to craft a plastic gun failed to get off the ground. Schu­mer wanted to amend the law to re­quire that fire­arms have per­man­ent met­al pieces in them.

Gun-con­trol ad­voc­ates have seen some move­ment out­side of Con­gress. In Septem­ber, Star­bucks CEO Howard Schultz de­clared guns un­wel­come in his stores, even in states with open-carry laws. Col­or­ado’s State House passed stricter gun laws, though mem­bers did so at great polit­ic­al per­il. Con­necti­c­ut ad­op­ted some of the strict­est in the na­tion, des­pite be­ing home to sev­er­al gun man­u­fac­tur­ers. And Obama did pass a num­ber of ex­ec­ut­ive or­ders that make small in­roads, such as re­strict­ing the im­port of mil­it­ary sur­plus weapons and or­der­ing fed­er­al agen­cies to share more data with the back­ground-check sys­tem.

But na­tion­al law­makers in 2013 did what they do every year when it comes to tight­en­ing gun re­stric­tions: noth­ing.

“It should be a source of great em­bar­rass­ment to the U.S. Sen­ate and House of Rep­res­ent­at­ives that we have not moved the ball for­ward one inch when it comes to the is­sue of pro­tect­ing the thou­sands of people all across this coun­try who are killed by guns every year,” said Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., be­fore Monday’s vote of the Un­detect­able Fire­arms Act, which passed by un­an­im­ous con­sent.

2012’s gun vi­ol­ence brought us un­pre­ced­en­ted grief. But 2013 re­minded us just how im­possible it is to move that ball for­ward. If a de­ranged man killing 20 kids and six teach­ers at an ele­ment­ary school won’t prompt mean­ing­ful gun re­form, it’s hard to ima­gine what will.

What We're Following See More »
TRUMP TOWER MEETING
Statehood, Metro Come Up as Bowser Meets Trump
2 minutes ago
THE LATEST

DC Mayor Muriel Bowser met with Donald Trump this morning in Manhattan, with statehood and the Metro system on the agenda. “We talked about the things that are important to Washingtonians, and certainly becoming the 51st state is one of them," she said after the meeting. She also made the point that the District is “not dependent on the federal government for our funds," and brought up funding for Metro. She told reporters that Trump is a fan of D.C.

Source:
EVENT IN NC
Mattis Gets the Official Nod Tonight
1 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
LOWER COURT TO DETERMINE NEW DAMAGES
SCOTUS Sides with Samsung Over Apple
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"A unanimous Supreme Court on Tuesday sided with smartphone maker Samsung in its high-profile patent dispute with Apple over design of the iPhone. The justices said Samsung may not be required to pay all the profits it earned from 11 phone models because the features at issue are only a tiny part of the devices. Apple had won a $399 million judgment against Samsung for copying parts of the iPhone's patented design, but the case now returns to a lower court to decide what Samsung must pay."

Source:
AFRAID OF BUDGET CUTS
Pentagon Hid Evidence of Waste
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post."

Source:
TRUMP IS “NOT QUALIFIED FOR THE OFFICE”
Texas GOP Elector Won’t Cast Vote For Trump
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

Christopher Suprun, a GOP elector from Texas, announced in an op-ed for The New York Times that he will not cast his vote in the electoral college for Donald Trump. This one vote will not keep Trump from getting to the 270 necessary to secure an electoral victory, but stands as a strong statement of rebuke. "I am asked to cast a vote on Dec. 19 for someone who shows daily he is not qualified for the office," Suprun wrote.

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login