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House Dems eye new measures following latest mass shooting

In the wake of the latest mass shooting, the new House Democratic majority is already eyeing a change in the political conversation over gun violence.
A woman points a handgun with a laser sight on a wall display of other guns during the National Rifle Association convention Friday, April 13, 2007, in St. Louis.
A woman points a handgun with a laser sight on a wall display of other guns during the National Rifle Association convention Friday, April 13, 2007, in St. Louis.

The details are still coming into focus, but we know a fair amount about the overnight mass shooting at a California bar. NBC News reported:

Twelve people including a police officer were killed by a veteran of the Marines at a crowded bar in Thousand Oaks, California, late Wednesday, officials said.Several hundred people were inside the venue, which was hosting a "college country night" for students, when Ian David Long, 28, walked inside and opened fire, police said.Ventura County Sheriff Geoff Dean described the incident at the Borderline Bar and Grill as a "tragic, tragic situation."

Among those killed were Ventura County Sheriff Sgt. Ron Helus, a husband and father, who rushed inside the venue, exchanged fire with the gunman, and later died at the hospital.

In recent years, in the wake of tragedies like these, those hoping to see policymakers explore new ways to keep Americans safe from gun violence have been left wanting. Congress' Republican majority has made no effort to hide their disinterest in even considering new legislation on the issue.

But as we learned this week, Congress is poised to see some changes very soon. Roll Call  reported this morning, "With a new majority in the House, Democrats say they're emboldened to make changes once they take control in January."

Florida Rep. Ted Deutch previewed legislation to create a "National Gun Safety Administration." Deutch's district includes the Parkland school where 17 children and adults were shot and killed nine months ago.Nevada Rep. Dina Titus has gotten little traction on her proposals to reform gun laws, but vowed, "that will change come January." Titus represents a district that encompasses most of Las Vegas, which saw the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history when a gunman used bump stocks to kill 58 concertgoers from a hotel window last year."I worry that we've become desensitized to this," Connecticut Rep. Jim Himes told CNN. Himes called for Congress to take up some of the measures that have been implemented in Connecticut like an assault weapons ban, but acknowledged the divided Congress makes the likelihood of any legislation becoming law much more remote.

That last point is obviously a relevant detail. House Democrats may very well take up new proposals on curtailing gun violence, but with the Republican lock on the Senate strengthening, and Donald Trump in the White House, the odds of meaningful reforms are poor.

But a Democratic-led House can at least try to help keep a national conversation going, listening to experts and advocates, holding hearings on proposed solutions, pressing federal and state officials for answers, and even passing ill-fated legislation.

For those looking for real, substantive change, it'll be cold comfort, but it'll be more than we've seen for the last two years.