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And then when Dawn Hochsprung, and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel D’Avino, Anne Marie Murphy -- when they showed up for work at Sandy Hook Elementary on December 14th of last year, they expected a day like any other -- doing what was right for their kids; spent a chilly morning readying classrooms and welcoming young students -- they had no idea that evil was about to strike. And when it did, they could have taken shelter by themselves. They could have focused on their own safety, on their own wellbeing. But they didn’t. They gave their lives to protect the precious children in their care. They gave all they had for the most innocent and helpless among us.When I think of Newtown, I think of the courage of those teachers, and the heroism and pain of the first responders on 12/14. And because of them and because of 20 first graders, I believe Newtown changed everything.
And that's what we honor today -- the courageous heart, the selfless spirit, the inspiring actions of extraordinary Americans, extraordinary citizens.
Even before the grieving is over (because that will take years), the question is what can we do so that others don't need to be awarded medals that their families never asked for and would trade in a heartbeat to get their loved ones back?
As it happens, we can do a lot. But we may need to do it one piece at a time.
Greg Sargent reports:
The bipartisan group of four Senators who are negotiating over a proposal to expand the gun background check system privately met this week to discuss where things stand, according to sources familiar with ongoing talks. One source tells me the four Senators are “95 percent of the way there.”That's great news, because law enforcement officials and experts, and gun owners and advocates for change all agree that if there's one thing that would make a difference, it's this. Nothing is certain, and even background checks are controversial (everything about this topic is), but they are not only popular with law enforcement, they are popular with the public.
As the White House continues its campaign to build support for stronger national gun laws, a new poll shows that the overwhelming majority of Americans - 92 percent - support the idea of background checks for all gun buyers.And when the bill reaches the Senate, the families of Newtown deserve a simple vote.
The Quinnipiac University poll, conducted among 1,772 registered voters from Jan. 30-Feb. 4, showed that support among those living in a gun-owning household was almost equally high: 91 percent of those voters said they support universal background checks.
"There is no significant voter opposition to requiring background checks for gun buyers," said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, in a statement. "And there is support for banning high volume ammunition clips and assault weapons, with the issue pretty much falling along party lines." The poll echoes similar findings in a CBS News/New York Times poll taken last month.
More on what needs to happen below the fold.
Opposition to any kind of legislation to promote gun violence reduction is led by the NRA. Their position is running into opposition all over the country. This, for example, is an editorial from Manitowoc County, WI:
NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre told lawmakers it would be ineffective to require background checks for all gun purchases because the Obama administration isn’t doing enough to enforce the law.And there are other important parts of the proposed approach. They include bans on straw man sales. They include high capacity magazine sales. And, not least, they include a reinstitution of an assault weapons ban, this time not one written by the gun manufacturers.
That reasoning is irresponsible and foolish, words that are more and more often associated with the NRA since LaPierre has taken the national stage on the issue in the wake of the shooting of 20 kids and six adults in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
Now, everything proposed won't happen. But a lot of it will. And if only background checks pass, that's a crack in the dam, a Rubicon that's been crossed. It's a loss for the NRA. And once that happens, there's no going back.
It's for that reason, the NRA is fighting it tooth and nail... that, and their fear of
a primary a leadership challenge from their right flank.
Which brings us to the demographic profile of a gun owner. According to a recent Gallup study, the highest rate of gun ownership was among white, southern, married men at 64 percent. Fifty percent of white men say they own a gun. More than one-third of Americans between the ages of 50 and 64 have a gun in the home.Just like everything else in DC these days, Republicans will vote their district rather than vote for what's good for the country. But background checks are universally popular, so there's no excuse not to pass them.
The lowest rate of gun ownership was among non-married women at 13 percent. Just 21 percent of African Americans, 18 percent of Hispanics and 20 percent of 18-29 year olds say they own a gun.
In other words, the political profile of a gun owner looks a whole lot like the profile of a traditional Republican voter, while that of a non-gun owner looks a lot like a Democratic voter.
What’s more, those gun owners/Republicans don’t trust the federal government when it comes to the issue of gun ownership...
This, and the other proposals deserve a vote. We won't get everything. But if we get that vote, we'll get something. And chances are, it'll be something meaningful.