Connecticut and Maryland are now on track to enact broad new gun control measures, joining the growing ranks of states that have strengthened their gun laws in the wake of Newtown. Yet, in Congress, the fate of gun control seems far less certain, as Republicans and conservative Democrats raise objections to bans on assault weapons and universal background checks.
Even a ban on straw purchases, once seen as a bipartisan rallying point, now appears to be in danger due to opposition from the NRA.
Still, nearly four months after the Newtown massacre and more than two years since the Tucson shooting that left his wife with severe brain damage, Mark Kelly and and former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., are confident that Congress will pass meaningful gun control legislation.
“There is certainly a path to success here,” Kelly told Mitchell Reports on Thursday. “It’s a little bit frustrating, but sometimes, you know, it is a frustrating process, and making legislation can be a slow and painful thing to do at times.”
Spearheading an effort to counter the NRA’s influence on lawmakers, Kelly and Giffords are on a mission to reduce gun violence through their new gun control group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.
“She’s really motivated to do whatever it takes to get this done,” Kelly said of his wife.
On Wednesday, as President Obama campaigned for gun control just miles away from the scene of the Aurora shooting, Giffords made a personal appeal for congressional action.
“Like most Americans, I’m sick of the infighting in Washington,” Giffords wrote in an op-ed for the Aurora Sentinel. “I want to see our strong, independent voices in Congress come together and solve problems.”
While several states have made headlines for passing new gun control laws, far more have passed measures to increase access to guns since the shooting at Sandy Hook. In 2013 alone, 25 bills have been sent to governors that seek to weaken gun laws, according to data from the Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence. In that same time period, eight bills seeking to strengthen gun laws have been sent to governors.
Kelly rejected the idea that gun control was losing steam in Congress, and pointed to frequent conversations he has with Senators who want to take action.
“Even conservative Republican senators know that, you know, we have a problem,” Kelly told Mitchell Reports. “There’s a solution and that solution is a universal background checks.”
And 91% of American voters agree, according to a new poll conducted by Quinnipiac University and released on Thursday. The poll also found that, among gun owners and Republicans, support for universal background checks is a whopping 88%.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t pass a universal background check now,” Kelly told Mitchell. “We can’t have 20 first graders murdered in their classrooms and not take some form of effective action.”