Will Congress Revisit Gun Control After California Shooting?

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CBS News – Friday’s shooting rampage in California that left three people dead from gunfireand another three stabbed to death is again raising calls for Congress to revisit various shades of gun control legislation. But if other, more deadly recent high-profile shootings weren’t enough of a catalyst to spur change, election-year politics is sure to stop short any serious renewed efforts in the near-term.

The Republican-led House has let the Democratic-led Senate wrestle over dealing with gun control since the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The Senate did manage to bring up a bipartisan bill to expand background checks last year but it died in the Senate, unable to overcome a filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., could bring up the bill again – and some lawmakers have already called for expanded background checks in the wake of Friday’s shooting – but Reid said last month he still doesn’t have the votes to get the measure passed.

With midterm elections looming in less than six months, Reid, who’s fighting to hang on to a Democratic majority in the Senate, likely has little interest in putting some of his most vulnerable members in a tricky spot.

Sens. Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas; Mary Landrieu, D-Louisiana; and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., are all facing tough re-election battles this fall and all represent states that voted for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012. All would have to answer to their states’ voters and to their Republican challengers if they went on the record voting for any pro-gun bill.

Begich and Pryor have been steadfast in their opposition to gun control and both voted against allowing debate on the background check bill last year, while Landrieu and Hagan both voted for it, immediately drawing criticism from Republicans. Putting them in that politically volatile situation again so close to a pivotal election is not part of the Democrats’ strategy for keeping majority control of the Senate.

Meanwhile, public opinion has not moved in such a way to make passage of a gun control measure any easier. A CBS News poll taken a year after the Newtown shooting found that support for stricter gun laws, which had peaked at 57 percent right after the shootings, was back down to 49 percent. The percentage of people who thought gun laws should stay as they are ticked up from 30 percent after the shooting to 36 percent a year later.

An area that seems to have drawn bipartisan interest and could possibly result in some congressional movement is dealing with mental health, one seemingly common thread in all of the recent mass shootings.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., was actively involved in efforts to pass more gun control legislation in the wake of the Newtown massacre and Sunday, he said he’s hoping Congress can focus on improving resources for mental health care.

“I really, sincerely hope that this tragedy, this unimaginable, unspeakable tragedy will provide an impetus to bring back measures that will keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people who are severely troubled or deranged like this young man was, and provide resources,” Blumenthal said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.

“We need mental health resources and that initiative, I hope, will provide a common ground, a point of consensus that will bring us together in the Congress and enable the majority.”

Congress, he warned, “will be complicit if we fail to act.”

Blumenthal said he might “reconfigure” a bill he failed to get through the Senate last year to make mental health the focus, an idea which Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., said on “Face the Nation” he could be on board with.

Congress should “ensure that we have policies in place that allow people with mental health issues like these to be diagnosed and to be treated,” Thune said. “I think that’s something on which there is agreement and that’s where we ought to be focusing our efforts.”

There is still the question of whether any legislation can prevent a similar incident from occurring.

In a separate interview with “Face the Nation,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown that 22-year-old Elliot Rodger, the suspected gunman in the Santa Barbara shootings, had been able to “fly under the radar” and conceal a history of mental instability for a long time.

Asked about whether more legislation would have made a difference, Blumenthal noted that the bill that failed in Congress last year would have given more resources for police departments to diagnose and detect mental illness and intervene.

“Obviously, not every kind of gun violence is going to be prevented by law, it’s out of Washington, but at least we can make a start,” he said.


  • SB

    They shouldn’t. Mostof these gun crimes are not committed by people who legally obtained the guns. stricter gun laws don’t mean fewer criminals with guns and don’t make it any more difficult for criminals to get guns.

  • Sarah 1

    A young man with a long history of mental illness used weapons he purchased legally to kill six people then himself. Why did he have a gun? Does the NRA own all our politicians? Where are the background checks? NO MONEY from the NRA should be given to any politician. Now there is a good law. Something has to be done.

    One lawmaker who wants to revisit gun control is Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican who is an outspoken critic of gun violence. “This tragedy demonstrates once again the need to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill,” King told The Washington Post. “Even though this issue may not be popular in particular congressional districts, if we want to be a national party, we ought to be looking closely at it. We’ve got to look at how we define mental illness, who is denied weapons and who is not, and focus the discussion. We have to have this debate.”
    Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) called out the NRA’s political dominance on Sunday. “Unfortunately the NRA continues to have a stranglehold on Congress, preventing even commonsense measures like universal background checks that have overwhelming support,” she said. “Americans need to rise up and say enough is enough. Until that happens, we will continue to see these devastating attacks. Shame on us for allowing this to continue.”

    Remember this, Congress has a Republican majority and Congress has the power to pass laws. Fire our Congressmen and women if they refuse to change our gun laws.

    Remember Asa Hutchinson is director of the NRA.

    • Elvis Rodas

      The whole NRA witch hunt is rediculous. They “own” congress?
      Sorry to inform you but congress has been owned for a long time. BY THE BANKS! Dont see many re-gressives bitching about them.

  • Kevin

    First of all Sarah you are wasting your time preaching gun control to Arkansans and you know it. I think its only fair Conservatives get a group to help with their agenda I mean you liberals get a tax funded group you know the unchecked unquestioned EPA. Almost forgot isn’t it ironic that this crime happened in a state with the strictest gun laws?

      • Jerry

        Yea because we know every Arkansan thinks and believes the same way you do Tom. Something needs to be done about people with mental issues having unrestricted access to guns. It’s almost like if a politician brings up gun control or back ground checks they’re evil and not American. The more guns on the streets the worse it’s going to be. There is a reason whys this country became more advanced and civilized there were less places were you could take guns. Why is it that the places were they pass these laws were you can take guns in more places but don’t allow guns in their buildings such as the Georgia State Capitol building? Because they’re actually smart enough to know they don’t want people carrying guns around in the place they work but they want guns every where else in that state. That’s a joke.

  • Kevin

    If I was sarah I’d move to where I fit in better such as California or New York. I bet she reports her neighbor’s to the EPA for oil leaking from their car onto the street she seems the type.

  • Kevin

    Take note how Sarah screams constitutional rights for g*y marriage but all of the sudden the constitution doesn’t matter for gun rights. I believe liberals refer to that as a bigot. So I guess that makes you a Bigot sarah.

  • Sarah 1

    Not nice Kevin. I am always respectful of you.

    I was educated here through college, took my masters elsewhere, and am quite the Arkansan Mr. Sambo. How about you?

    Kevin the law center for gun safety supported by numerous politicans as a result of the Brady Bill gives California an A- rating. Sadly Arkansas gets an F.

    We will make Arkansas a better place for children, safety, health care, and the list goes on and on. Why? Because we love our state and see positive changes on many venues.

    These are the friendliest, nicest people in the lower forty-eight states. Our state is rich with beauty and natural resources and she is worth fighting for in every sense of the word, especially on this Memorial Day when so many poor Arkansas boys were drafted to fight rich men’s wars. They didn’t have college educations or rich daddy’s to save their son’s lives. We honor them today because they gave the ultimate sacrifice.

    • Jerry

      I agree with you Sarah. If you disagree with anybody about their beliefs your considered not an American and trying to dismantle this nation or not an Arkansan for that matter. I believe that as these issues get discussed there is always common ground or a compromise that people can come to. Talks about background checks are great for the Republican Party because all they do is turn that around say they’re trying to take our guns away. They will run their whole campaign on that instead of focusing on real issues that affect our everyday lives. They’ll focus on gun rights while becoming rich from gun manufacturers, big corporations, and the rich while forgetting about the working American.

      • Kevin

        If you remember Jerry when the last mass shooting occured the liberals threatened gun control and there was a mass purchase of firearms and ammo hmmm…. did the gun companies pay them to threaten this?

  • Kevin

    There is a big difference in gun safety and gun control. Gun safety I am for Gun control I am not.

  • Kevin

    But don’t get the two confused when I say Gun Safety I mean Safety classes that are VOLUNTARY not laws saying my guns have to be locked up in my house and ammo locked up 10 miles away in a special government run ammo storage that costs 100 bucks a month or something silly like that

  • Jack James

    If I am killed by an illegal gun, I am still dead. The gun issues aren’t about having guns, it is about societies breakdown. Crime and violence in the streets of major cities are nothing like we see here. It won’t change until we hit rock bottom and, hopefully come back.

  • riwieneke

    If those other people had guns, one of them could have shot Elliot Rodger as soon as his rampage started. You want to make society more Peaceful, get guns into the hands of more Private Citizens. Also, if everybody had been Armed, Elliot Rodger probably wouldn’t have even started shooting people.

    • Sarah 1

      How about getting guns out of everyone’s hands? That’s my solution.
      If you want to hunt, go by the police department and check out your weapon. Trained professionals could store weapons.

      More innocent bystanders would have been slaughtered. Even police officers generally don’t hit moving targets.

      No plan is perfect. Something has to be done to save innocent lives.

      • Kevin

        Sometimes there are sacrifices for freedom. The government can’t ban everything that causes death. Murder has been part of our society long before guns.

      • HL

        sarah, If guns were taken out of everyone’s hands, a minimum of 3 people would still be dead, in this case. tose ths acceptable to you, as long as a gun wasn’t used? You like unarmed victims. Don’t you? Well, killers do, too.

      • HL

        I meant to say, are those deaths acceptable to you? I don’t know why my keyboard isn’t typing some of the letters like it’s supposed to.

  • Jerry

    There are a lot of gun owners who are responsible gun owners who use guns to protect their homes, hunt and just enjoy shooting them. I just don’t see the need for open carry and stand your ground laws. It just seems unnecessary to me. I don’t see the point for men to go into department stores with semiautomatic rifles strapped to their back. Why? We live in a civilized society now. I don’t see the answer as having more gun laws like Georgia has passed.

    • HL

      You don’t see a need for stand your ground laws? Well, contrary to what you think, we need stand your ground laws because people need to be able to defend themselves from guys like elliot rodger.

  • Elvis Rodas

    There is a powerfull elite trying to strip americans there rites! All of them. I am getting the feeling a controlled economic collapse would be implemented if an american disarmorment should happen. European gun laws got stricter, there economic conditions worsened for all but the elite. Funny how every state with the most stringent gun laws have the most oppressive tax conditions.

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