The change in public opinion regarding the firearms that caused the Newtown massacre is not reflected in the attitude in Congress. The fear inspired by the National Rifle Association (NRA) has gradually diluted the package of laws aimed at preventing a repetition of the Sandy Hook tragedy.
The ban on assault weapons, like the one used at the school, is the first victim of NRA lobbying, which now seems closer to the position of the firearms industry than that of the public, including a significant percentage of its members.
This is the case with the universal background check for firearms purchases that has now become the hallmark of the legislation. The measure, for now, establishes that all commercial weapons transactions, including between individuals, must include a background check as occurs with licensed gun dealers.
It is normal for the purchase and sale of a gun to be recorded. However, the NRA is lobbying against background checks for anyone who purchases a gun. And, if background checks pass, they say that the documentation on the transaction should be destroyed.
The NRA’s radical positions have eroded some of its popular support, but it remains a powerful special interest capable of financing rivals to those who accept reasonable restrictions on guns. This is enough to intimidate Democratic lawmakers in states or districts considered Republican.
A law with teeth faces a tough road through the Senate, and an even tougher one in the House. However, doing nothing about this type of violence is not an option.
It is a tragedy that the horror and indignation inspired by the massacre of children has devolved into politics as usual and the demagoguery surrounding gun control. Even more tragic is the fact that without the right changes, the nightmare at Sandy Hook is doomed to repeat itself.