New York enacts gun-control laws
New York signs into law one of the nation's toughest gun-control measures and the first to be enacted since the mass school shooting in Connecticut.PT1M18S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-2ctmc 620 349 January 16, 2013
WASHINGTON: A month after the killings in Sandy Hook, the White House and a loose coalition of activists are hoping to harness the public disgust to force Congress to pass its first significant gun control legislation in almost 20 years.
In Washington DC on Wednesday, Barack Obama and his Vice-President, Joe Biden, surrounded by children who wrote to the President in the wake of the most recent massacre, will announce their proposals for action.
New laws ... Demonstrators seek tighter gun controls during their protest outside the White House in Washington. Photo: AFP
It is thought they will call for bans on military-style semi-automatic weapons and high capacity magazines as well as extending background checks for what is known as the secondary market.
Mr Obama will also detail what action he will take by way of executive order.
''The President certainly hopes that out of the tragedy of Newtown we can achieve progress towards reducing gun violence in this country,'' the White House spokesman, Jay Carney, said. ''He believes that we can no longer stand by without taking action … Achieving some of the goals that he has already set might be difficult. Because they're difficult does not mean they should not be pursued.''
But many groups and sympathetic politicians are not waiting for Washington to act - either because they are also seizing the moment or because the White House is calling in favours.
Even the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, recently cast doubt on the congressional prospects of the assault weapons ban.
''Let's be realistic. In the Senate, we're going to do what we think can get through the House. And I'm not going to be going through a bunch of these gyrations just to say we've done something because if we're really legislators, the purpose of it is to pass legislation,'' Senator Reid said in a recent interview. ''Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe. Is it something that can pass the House? I doubt it.''
The Delaware Attorney-General, Beau Biden - who also happens to be the eldest son of the Vice-President - announced on Monday that his state would act to ban assault rifles, ban gun possession near schools and make background checks mandatory for all schools.
Significantly he emphasised that as a veteran he had been trained to use assault rifles and knew they had no place on American streets. It appears a key part of the control advocates' strategy is to front the campaign with known gun owners to reassure people they are not seeking a blanket ban on ownership.
Shortly after the President said he would act, Gabrielle Giffords, the former Democratic Congresswoman who survived being shot in the Tucson mass shooting, announced she and her husband were establishing a fund-raising committee to support the campaign. She also emphasised she was a gun owner who supported the second amendment.
Also on Monday, the Maryland Governor, Martin O'Malley, announced he would pursue assault rifle bans and tighten licensing laws, while on Tuesday, New York became the first state to institute such a ban since the Sandy Hook killings. Similar bills are to be introduced in New Jersey or are being discussed in Connecticut and Colorado.
Also on Tuesday, the New York Post published a fiery opinion piece by the mayor, Michael Bloomberg, calling for immediate action and encouraging people to sign the petition he has organised through the group he founded, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
Also this week, Mr Obama's former Chief of Staff, the Chicago mayor, Rahm Emanuel, instructed the city's pension fund managers to divest themselves of holdings in arms manufacturers, and called on other mayors to follow his lead. He is also planning to introduce to the city bans that mirror those the President is pushing for nationally.