Adam Winkler: Who Killed Gun Control?

tags: guns, gun control, The New Republic, Newtown, Adam Winkler



Adam Winkler teaches law at UCLA

The day after the horrific mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, Barack Obama fought back tears. “We’ve endured too many of these tragedies in the past few years,” he said. “The majority of those who died today were children, beautiful little kids between the ages of five and ten. They had their entire lives ahead of them, birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own.” When the president said Americans were “going to have to come together to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics,” it looked as if new federal gun laws were inevitable. Polls showed significant majorities in support of universal background checks and restrictions on military-style rifles, and many in Washington were beginning to question the power of the NRA after the gun rights group’s favored candidates fared poorly in the November elections.

Today, just four months later, the Senate all but dashed any hope for meaningful reform from Congress. What happened? Where did the president, who was at the height of his political influence after his reelection in November, go wrong?

After Newtown, it was clear to everyone on the gun control side that speed was of the essence. The longer it took to move a bill to the floor for a vote, the harder it would be to win. In recognition of this, President Obama appeared to act quickly. He appointed a special commission headed up by Joe Biden to come up with proposals, then gave the commission a tight deadline of mid-January to make its recommendations....



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