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Six months after Newtown

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary happened six months ago today, sparking a spirited national debate about how -- and whether -- to take steps to reduce gun
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R)

The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary happened six months ago today, sparking a spirited national debate about how -- and whether -- to take steps to reduce gun violence. As Rachel explained on the show last night, the campaign thus far has seen mixed results.

In Nevada, for example, the state legislature recently approved a proposal to require background checks on gun purchases, including private transactions, closing the gun-show loophole. A recent statewide poll showed 86% of Nevadans supporting the measure, including 78% of self-identified conservatives.

Perhaps this could be the kind of common-sense measure that Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval (R) could sign into law? Apparently not.

The Republican governor said in a veto statement that the bill amounted to an erosion of Nevadans' constitutional right to bear arms that would do "little to prevent criminals from unlawfully obtaining firearms."The bill, which narrowly passed in the state Senate in May and was approved by the Assembly in June, would have also required Nevada courts to send information about legal defendants who are found to be mentally ill to a national clearinghouse for all new gun purchases within five business days after the finding.

Mayors Against Illegal Guns responded in a statement, "Rather than sign sensible legislation that keeps guns out of the hands of convicted felons and the mentally ill, Governor Sandoval has decided to preserve the loopholes that they use to buy guns."

And while setbacks like these are no doubt disappointing to gun-safety advocates, one of the changes we've seen in the political world in the aftermath of Newtown is that proponents of these measures are far less inclined to give up.

Indeed, on Capitol Hill, yesterday offered a reminder that Democratic lawmakers were quite serious when they said a few months ago that they see this as a multi-round fight -- and they're not down for the count.

The New York Times reports today that that "delicate talks" are underway "on a new background-check measure that advocates hope could change enough votes from no to yes."

Quiet talks between Senators Mark Begich, Democrat of Alaska, and Kelly Ayotte, Republican of New Hampshire, officially do not exist. Both senators voted no in April, and aides to both deny the existence of negotiations or legislation. [...]But other senators are openly acknowledging and encouraging the effort and say the talks are building momentum. Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut, said a new version of the gun bill would most likely enhance prosecutions of those who violate existing gun laws and further clarify that new legislation would not and could not lead to a national database of guns or gun ownership.

Blumenthal added, "We have to give them a credible and commendable way to change their votes.... Sometimes clarification can have the appearance of change."

As recently as April, it looked like the fight was over. It's not.