Gun Battle Is Far from Over: Gun Control Advocates Seek Stricter Laws

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON - Jubilation may have been overdue for gun-control advocates May 5 when the House of Representatives - by a margin of two votes - handed the National Rifle Association a major defeat by banning 19 assault weapons.

But the victory was far from total. The United States remains a gun-toting country.

As the House joined with the Senate in seeking greater gun control, Jesuit Fr. Peter Klink, who follows gun-control issues for the Jesuit Conference's Social Ministries, warned that more battles will follow the recent House action.

"It's a step in the right direction, that these weapons are not part of our right to bear arms," he said. "But I was disappointed that the NRA can still get away with statements like the one they gave after the vote. ... they said this is a defeat and setback in terms of people's ability to have sporting guns, rifles - or possess weapons at all."

On the contrary, Klink said, "It was very clear in this vote that the issue was weapons that have no relationship to that. It's in the NRA's interest to couple these two things - to bolster the perception, so that people see it as a fundamental right being eroded."

And the NRA does not intend to sit back while those who voted against it take NRA political action committee money. NRA's Tom Wyld told NCR: "We're going to look at the list (of those who voted for the ban) and see what our options are."

That is a clear message to those in Congress who in the past have taken NRA campaign contributions but on this vote listened instead to their constituents (see accompanying list). Typical is Michigan Democrat Bob Carr, who since 1984 has accepted nearly $25,000 from the NRA, including $2,000 this year.

Carr defended his vote to ban semiaoutomatic firearms by saying, "This bill specifically names 19 weapons most problematic for the police but also exempts nearly 700 firearms commonly used by target shooters and hunters. …