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Why The Outlook Is Dim For Federal Gun Control Legislation

After the Newtown, Ct., school massacre, the Senate defeated a bill in 2013 that would have expanded background checks to most gun sales. Then Vice President Biden said the failed vote would infuriate the nation, helping the gun control movement. Biden’s optimism was misplaced, the Washington Post reports. Since Newtown, the nation has experienced more than 3,500 mass shootings, according to the Gun Violence Archive. , a nonprofit organization that tracks gun violence and defines a mass shooting as an incident in which four or more people are killed or injured. Biden frequently touts his role in passing a 1994 assault weapons ban, a bill with a 10-year “sunset” clause, meaning it expired in 2004 after Congress did not renew it. After Newtown, President Obama made Biden his point person on guns. Biden led a team that proposed nearly two dozen executive actions on guns that Obama signed


As president, Biden has yet to receive from the Democratic-controlled Congress any major piece of legislation aimed at preventing mass shootings. Most Republicans are opposed to any proposed changes, arguing that new restrictions would have little impact on the frequency of mass shootings and would impinge on the constitutional right to bear arms. The 2013 bill from Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WVA) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) was modest. Still, Gun Owners of America and the National Rifle Association opposed it. After last weekend's Buffalo shooting, Manchin again called on Congress to take up his bipartisan background checks deal from nearly a decade ago. “If you can’t pass Manchin-Toomey, how are you going to get enough votes for anything else?” Manchin said. Even that seems unlikely. Toomey said that neither Biden nor his staff has contacted the senator about working on gun legislation. He said he is skeptical that the Buffalo tragedy will prompt a meaningful federal gun bill. “I never say never, but I don’t think there’s anything President Biden can do or say,” Toomey said. “The political dynamic is such that a popular Republican president would have more of chance. … A Democratic president isn’t in a position, especially an unpopular one like Biden.”

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