Stronger Gun Laws Are Still Within Reach

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In the weeks that followed the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, this past December, advocates for stronger gun laws focused their efforts on a proposal to require background checks for most gun sales between unlicensed buyers and sellers to prevent criminals and other dangerous people from easily buying guns with no questions asked. Three weeks ago, however, the Senate came six votes short of the 60 votes required to advance this legislation, known as the Manchin-Toomey amendment, that would have expanded gun background checks to all gun shows, online purchases, and advertised sales.

Some observers were quick to point to the vote as evidence of the Nation Rifle Association’s, or NRA’s, enduring power, but there are several reasons to believe that the gun lobby’s dominance is in jeopardy and that its victory in the Senate may have been a pyrrhic one. Below are nine reasons why progress on stronger gun laws is, in fact, still within reach.

  • Swing-state momentum
  • Evolving demographics
  • A new center of gravity
  • Widening divide between the NRA leadership and public opinion— even among gun owners
  • The NRA’s path not followed
  • Democrats and progressives are re-engaged
  • Recent election results
  • Closing the intensity gap
  • The numbers

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