Gun control, long a dormant issue in American politics, surged to the forefront of the Democratic agenda following December 2012's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. Yet in the following months, as bill after bill failed to pass through Congress, the renewed push for gun control once again subsided -- until now.
One hundred sixty-three House Democrats -- over 80% of the entire caucus -- signed onto an open letter [PDF] Thursday addressed to Republican House Speaker John Boehner demanding that he allow "a vote on substantive legislation to address gun violence." The timing of the letter suggests that Democrats are prepared to make gun control in an issue in the 2014 midterm elections, despite evenly divided public opinion and staunch opposition from the powerful National Rifle Association (NRA).
"Gun violence has affected constituents in every Congressional district, and as their representatives, Members of Congress deserve the opportunity to vote on bills that would address this epidemic," write the letter's drafters, who note that at least 74 school shootings have taken place in the year and a half since Sandy Hook.
The letter's release was preceded earlier this month by a large anti-gun violence demonstration in New York. Roughly 1,000 protesters, including some celebrities and people directly affected by the Sandy Hook massacre, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and demanded stricter gun laws.
In 2010, the most recent year on record, 11,078 people in the United States died as a result of gun violence, according to the Center for Disease Control.