Congress stalls as memory of Newtown fades

Three months ago, just after 27 deaths in Newtown, Conn., we predicted there would be great sound and fury about gun control followed by little or no action.

"As we have done before," we wrote four days after the tragedy, "people will go back to their lives and Congress will go back to wringing its hands ... when its members think about the implications of offending the gun lobby."

Well, what do you know? The sound of fury lasted about 15 weeks.

Public support is now flagging and Congress has done nothing to control the proliferation of guns.  It has, however, responded quickly to three requests this year by the gun lobby to further relax gun regulations.

No kidding.

Congress acted to prevent the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives from requiring gun dealers to inventory their guns annually to make sure none were lost, stolen ... or sold under the table.

Congress acted to require the ATF to issue a disclaimer on any gun data warning that it "cannot be used to draw broad conclusions about firearms related crimes."

Finally, Congress broadened the definition of antique guns for easier importation.

You see, this is why the gun lobby warns us after national gun tragedies that it is always "too soon to talk" about preventing gun violence.

They know that if they survive the initial blast of shock and dismay following a Newtown-style slaughter, any effort to change gun laws will gradually dissipate.

A poll shortly after Newtown found that 57 percent of Americans thought Congress should act on gun control. By March, that number had dropped to 47 percent.

Congress, meanwhile, has folded like a fishing worm.

President Barack Obama came up with a 36-point laundry list of ideas for curbing gun violence.

Some of the ideas were serious, like requiring criminal background checks for all gun sales including gun shows.

And some were just humorous, like the one instructing Congress to appoint an ATF director.

That job, the top job in the agency charged with enforcing gun laws, has been unfilled for six years.

Did we say six years? Yes, SIX YEARS.

NRA always says we should enforce existing gun laws. Well, by blocking every attempt to fill this job you can see how serious they are about that.

The interim ATF director also works as U.S. Attorney from Minnesota. His appointment to full-time director is pending in Congress which, at the rate Congress is going, may take six years to consider.

More than half of Obama's gun ideas were things you would have thought somebody would already have done, like starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.

With about 32,000 Americans dying in gun-incidents each year, and exceeding highway deaths in 10 states, someone is just now thinking about this?

Another idea, "Providing incentives for schools to hire school resource officers," sounds a lot like the NRA's plan to put a "good guy with a gun" in every school.

Weird how Democrats are not scoffing when Obama says it.

But the big pieces of Obama's plan, background checks for all gun sales, a ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10-rounds all seem doomed.

Senate President Harry Reid has already yanked the assault weapon and 10-round magazine idea from the proposed Senate bill.

Reid said it couldn't pass. Maybe not, but he also wanted to prevent putting Democratic senators on the record voting in favor of "gun control." That's how deeply committed most Dems in the Senate are to this effort.

Even if the background check bill gets out of the Senate, and that's uncertain, it likely will be dead on arrival in the Republican-led House.

And so will end any serious effort to change gun laws in this country. 

The parents in Newtown will complain about their children dying in vain, and Congress will tune out one of its own members, Gabby Giffords, severely crippled by a mentally ill gunman.

Spring will be in the air, and Congressmen will be itching to recess and fire some shots of their own. 

Down a lush, green fairway someplace, probably with a NRA lobbyist at their side.

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board.

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PAUL MATTSON's picture

Maine people won't

Maine people won't forget

Joseph Cimino

Letters |
Thursday, April 4, 2013

The editorial board of the Sun Journal has taken political correctness to a new level (editorial, March 31). You pat yourself on the back for several predictions which fall in line with Puxatawney Phil's prediction that winter was over 2 months ago.
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The American people have not changed their opinion on firearms, despite biased news articles and anti-gun zealots such as Bloomberg and Soros spending untold millions to sell out the Second Amendment.

When the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm agents visit unannounced to federal firearms licensees to review procedures and inventory, serial numbered entries are checked against inventory of firearms on hand. The licensee would be in violation of federal law if any items are unaccounted for.

Your uncalled for remark that dealers could sell guns under the table is totally without merit and completely false and insulting to legitimate businesses.

If you truly want accurate reporting, Rex Rhoades should get off his butt and visit my shop, or any other licensed firearms business, and ask questions as to how much government regulation is already in place to protect the public.

As for your diatribe on the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms director, the Sun Journal must have selective amnesia. Have you forgotten "fast and furious?" The ATF director oversaw gun walking — a process in which guns were sold to criminals. Those directives resulted in the death of a U.S. border agent and many Mexicans caught in the crossfire of illegal weapons.

The U.S. Congress has, rightfully, held up appointments until all the facts are known.

The Sun Journal cites how many deaths occur due to gun violence, but does not mention the estimated 2.5 million times yearly guns were used in defense against a confrontation with a criminal (source: Survey by Gary Kleck, Ph.D., and Marc Gertz, 1993).

As for President Obama's ideas, such as supporting the United Nations treaty on guns, that is nothing but a smokescreen to back-end the degradation of the U.S. Constitution.

Recently, Maine Sen. Angus King voted to support that U.N. treaty. On Oct. 23, 2012, the Sun Journal endorsed King.

Maine people won't forget.

Joseph F. Cimino, Poland Spring

PAUL MATTSON's picture

The opinions expressed in

The opinions expressed in this column reflect the views of the ownership and the editorial board. - Well you can kiss this 30 year subscriber goodby!

Andrew Jones's picture

As much as I'd like to laud

As much as I'd like to laud congress for upholding the second amendment, we all know it was partisanship and the threat of losing upcoming elections that killed the effort.

Eh. A victory is a victory.

Dana Coffin's picture

Poor, fevered SJ

They think national gun policy is being controlled by 'the gun lobby.' I suppose that it is, and it's membership consists of scores of millions of voters who want to take charge of their personal security.
"More than half of Obama's gun ideas were things you would have thought somebody would already have done, like starting a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign." Ummm.... somebody already has done this. The campaign for safe and responsible gun ownership is called the NRA. They have been constantly training ordinary people in gun safety on a massive scale for decades.
Great Britain has negligible legal access to firearms, while Switzerland (with its universal male military service) has more expansive gun ownership than that found in the U.S. Both have low incidence of gun violence, compared to America. Culture trumps policy. Reducing the size of clips is like limiting the size of a Big Gulp. You can buy two of them, and not much is gained. Let's wait for some sound reforms, instead of enacting a pre-existing anti-gun plan so we can show that we did 'something.'

 's picture

Once again we are powerless victims

The American people can do nothing. We are powerless. This is the central argument of the NRA. Well we aren't. Gun Violence can be controlled and responsible gun owners will lead the way or it won't get done. The survivalists can talk about protecting their families but that's just code for I need to be a cowboy and live in a fantasy world of honorable conflict. Its not the culture its macho delusion.
The NRA was taken over by the gun manufacturers in the 1970's and abandoned its responsibility to the country to train responsible gun owners. Today it does anything to sell more guns.

RONALD RIML's picture

Let's wait, Let's Wait.....

Let's wait......

(As the death toll mounts)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“..a ban on assault weapons

“..a ban on assault weapons and limiting ammunition magazines to 10-rounds all seem doomed.”

Well, perhaps as emotions are setting down, people are realizing that a ban on assault weapons would account for only a small fraction of those nearly 32,000 gun deaths a year – less than 200.

Moreover, once you remove suicides from that number, we cut it by 56% as indicated in data from Center for Disease Control.

Ostensibly, emotion is setting from the Sandy Hook shooting; we can now make better decisions, which include seeing that many proposals for gun control made in the heat of the moment don’t make sense or are not very implementable.
Thank goodness.


So, those 200 lives that

So, those 200 lives that would be saved by banning assault weapons means nothing to you, right? Next you're going to say that not banning assault weapons will save 2000 lives! What a bunch of kooks!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“those 200 lives that would

“those 200 lives that would be saved by banning assault weapons means nothing to you, right”

So your assumption is that the killing would have not used, say a shotgun or a handgun?

“Next you're going to say that not banning assault weapons will save 2000 lives! What a bunch of kooks!”

Yet another faulty assumption. I’m a candid individual, and I say what I mean. I don’t have to speak with riddles.

To that end, both of you thoughts are nonsensical and are not derived from any fact. Candid enough for you?

 's picture

Emotion is on the NRA side, not the control advocates

The NRA is one long tempter tantrum typical of an eight year-old who doesn't get his way even when he does.
The AWB is silly, contradicts reason, can't be implemented, will have little impact, etc. But its not emotional. Its one of only steps that control advocates can take to limit these mass shootings. Can't do handguns because Scalia says that it won't pass constitutional muster. Can't ban semiautomatics because there are too many of them in private hands and a ban would also be unconstitutional. Can't do licensing and registration the real solution because politically it will not fly. All that's left is this ridiculous cosmetic ban on a few of the many "military-style" firearms. Even that is wording intended to tie to previous decisions.
Emotional is male chauvinist code for gay, women, and inferior. In truth its their emotional attachment to male chauvinism that prevents white men from rationally dealing with the violence crisis in America.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here we go playing the race

Here we go playing the race card.

First, all humans are emotional creatures. Second, an emotional decision is based on feeling devoid of facts.

For example, fear is an emotion. Banning a gun, say an assault-style weapon, because it looks like a military weapon is based on fear (i.e. emotion) while the facts as reported by the FBI indicate assault weapons are used in a small fraction of gun deaths. Even the term that you use, “mass killing” is done to invoke fear or shows fear.

Lastly, your interpretation of what emotion means, the coded message, is in fact an emotional response based on feeling and not fact. Anyhow, I know that you probably learned that ad hominem attack method from the left.

I hope this clears the air as to what the word emotion means in this context – based on feeling, devoid of facts.

Now have a pleasant day.

RONALD RIML's picture

Thanks for the rationale.....

That we don't merely stop at 'Assault Weapons'

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ronald, Please tell the


Please tell the readers something we don’t already know. Yet the anti-gun crowd swears up and down no one wants to take away your guns. We all know the plan is to not stop at assault weapons.

RONALD RIML's picture

We're not taking your guns away.

We'll leave them in your 'Safe' and take you away.......

MARK GRAVEL's picture


Are we being a bully?

Steve  Dosh's picture

Happy Easter LSJ ® readers

Happy Easter LSJ ® readers 3 pm hst Sunday
. . Remember Aurora n e one? How about Columbine ? Yeah , they are both in Colorado
Now , Texas rangers are guarding all public officials in TX . It's happening right now . Guns remain the problem
Nero fiddled whilst Rome burned
Our Congress fiddles whilst the rest of us get shot •
Alo'ha from Pahoa HI 96778 u s of a  
/s , Steve and ohana
b t w - Tomorrow is April Fools day ;)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

So, ask yourself. Will

So, ask yourself. Will eliminating guns (if you can), eliminate violence?

 's picture

Money is more important... our legislators than kids.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Emotional reactions will not

Emotional reactions will not prevail in this situation.

Thank goodness.


Let's have a couple of your

Let's have a couple of your relatives picked off by an assault rifle, then come talk to us about emotional reactions. That's you're sorry-assed excuse every time someone uses the God-given gift of compassion and feelings in trying to make this a better world to live in. Conservatives are nothing but a bunch of socialpaths - care only about themselves, and screw everyone else.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Let's have a couple of your

"Let's have a couple of your relatives picked off by an assault rifle"...
"Conservatives are nothing but a bunch of socialpaths (sic)"....
Conservatism is an intellectual pursuit; liberalism is an emotional train wreck. Your post reflects that, although you are entitled to your opinions, as are the rest of us.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Ostensibly, such a loss would

Ostensibly, such a loss would be met with emotion.
That said, I expect our problem solvers (i.e. politicians) to approach problems with scientific method, which means you need to put emotions and feelings aside.

Let’s take for example that one’s objective is to reduce mass shootings post Sandy Hook. Let’s also say that the proposed solution is to ban assault-style weapons, as proposed. Moreover, let’s enter a mental exercise and ask the question would Sandy Hook have occurred if assault-style weapons have not existed at all? Fair question, right?

Put yourself in the killer’s shoes. Don’t you think that if you are hell bent on killing as many people as you can, what weapon would you use – remember assault-style weapons do not exist in this game.

I would use a shotgun with 00 buck shot or #4 shot. You see, the absence of assult-style weapons would not preclude the killer from the next alternative. We can keep repeating this mental exercise removing one gun type at time. Given that we have the second amendment, you cannot get rid of all guns nor will you change the will and creativity of the killer.

A wise politician realizes this situation and perhaps turns his or her attention to what is driving this individual rather focusing on the instrument. Perhaps they would notice that each perpetrator of the last four mass killings were taking a psychostimulant drug for mental illness and have recently stop medication shortly before the killings. Perhaps this individual would also know that individuals who take these drugs then stop, have more intense feelings that may lead to individuals committing suicide or other anti-social behaviors.

A similar analogy is that you go to the dentist with a toothache. The dentist quickly pulls the tooth. That is, he eliminates it. However, the dentist spends little to no time diagnosing the true cause – perhaps gingivitis. Oops, didn’t solve the problem due to exacting the tooth based on a simple emotional response.

The takeaway here is that simply removing instruments of violence does not remove the violence. Approach this problem using scientific methods, not emotion. A emotional reaction to this problem will not fix the problem; therefore, banning access to weapons will not solve the problem.

Now set you emotions aside and make the right set of choices.

 's picture

You have...

...a really active imagination.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Did you even get the point of

Did you even get the point of this exercise? Perhaps not. You carp about having a discussion, here is your chance.

 's picture

Hear, hear!!!!

Well said.


Thanks Bob. Can only hold it

Thanks Bob. Can only hold it in for so long...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Yes, when one’s large

Yes, when one’s large intestine is full of defecation, you can only hold it in for so long before one has to let it out.


You're right. My large

You're right. My large intestine just can't take you anymore!

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Perhaps there is an

Perhaps there is an obstruction – frequently it is one’s head.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

"Kudos" screeched the weary

"Kudos" screeched the weary parrot after a night carousing with a couple of lady turkeys.

RONALD RIML's picture

Yet emotions certainly help the NRA.....

"From my cold, dead hands....."

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

We must not speak

We must not speak irreverently of the deceased....must we?

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Just try to unarm Americans

Just try to unarm Americans and see whether that phrase is an emotion or a philosophy.

RONALD RIML's picture

I already have.

You shoulda been there. It wasn't gentle. And I'm still here.

 's picture

That's getting really old.

Protecting people, our people, our citizens, men, women and children, from the most serious daily threat of violence, gun violence, is NOT an emotional issue. It is a matter of public safety. FBI statistics show violent crime overall is down. However, gun violence is climbing at an alarming rate. The weapon being used that causes the most damage in the shortest amount of time, the so-called so-called assault weapon, is the weapon of choice to use against our citizens. Therefore, it might be propitious to regulate this weapon to limit it's availability to the general public. Logic, not emotion. Find another dead horse to beat.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Woody, you are simply wrong.

Woody, you are simply wrong. Handguns, Handguns, Handguns, are the most widely use weapon in shootings by far, and everybody knows that statistic – well, all most everyone.

I outright accuse you of word-smithing a lie.

 's picture


But you're wrong.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Woody, The data is right


The data is right here:

Now ask yourself, do you still want to propagate your misinformation? Perhaps it is time to show your source.

 's picture

How about...

MARK GRAVEL's picture

It is a matter of public

It is a matter of public safety. FBI statistics show violent crime overall is down. However, gun violence is climbing at an alarming rate.

Nothing you provided shows that “gun violence is climbing at an alarming rate.” The link that provided, which is more specific that your pile, is from the same root sources shows otherwise.

Gun violence is not climbing; it is in fact decreasing along with overall violence.

You lie!

 's picture

Tell you what.

You have no interest is having a debate. You read what you want, disregard the rest and then call names. Now put your mouth where your mouth is. I will not be introducing any legislation and probably will not influence any legislation concerning gun violence that will be introduced. When I say the weapon of choice in mass murders is the assault rifle, you totally ignore that. Fine. Spew your garbage at people who will be introducing legislation. I'll be 1. you won't do it and 2. if you do, you'll get the same kind of pablum I've been getting from them. So send your garbage elsewhere. Call the legislators liars. Actually, you tell half truths which is worse than a liar. When you know someones lying, you know how to handle it. People like yourself who tell half-truths are ten times worse than a liar. I'm done. Pull out all your name-calling and have fun. But you'll be playing with yourself. I'm done with your garbage.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“When I say the weapon of

“When I say the weapon of choice in mass murders is the assault rifle, you totally ignore that. Fine.”

Just spin, it means nothing in the discussion about reducing gun violence, as you claim to support. You know that too. This is your way of taking the focus off the root locus. As I said previously, you are work-smithing. What you are attempting is called a straw-man argument.

“Spew your garbage at people who will be introducing legislation.”

I always represent the fact the best that I know them. Yes, I do make mistakes at time, but I don’t play straw-man games or shade the truth to make my case.

Given that I attempted to educate you with this data time after time, but you continue to misrepresent the data, what should I call it? You can ignore the facts, but I’ll challenge you when you misrepresent them simply to support your claims.

So, if it is not a lie, what is it?

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Repeat the truth to them

Repeat the truth to them often enough and they quit.

 's picture


You don't wish to have a discussion, you just want to spew your propaganda. When you reply to what someone has written, you dismiss their argument out of hand in your first sentence. Then you go on with your diatribe. That's hardly a dialog. When people realize what you're doing, they don't give up, they realize talking with you is useless and they are just providing you with a platform from which you spew your garbage. We don't give up - we take away your platform. Have a nice day.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

Call it anything you wish, my

Call it anything you wish, my friend, but quit is quit. By the way, I'm quite familiar with the "Have a nice day" reference. Same to you.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Woody is transparent

I would like to state an observation. Woody always gets frustrate and pulls out this same old draw statement when you are not compelled to see it his way.

For example, I spoon feed him FBI facts about gun violence; I point him to the precise tables in the FBI reports. He makes claims not supported by the data, then claims I'm spreading propaganda. I guess if you cannot refute the facts, just call it propaganda - FBI data on violence is simply propaganda because it does not fit Woody's view of the world. What else should I say.

 's picture

You 'da man.

Only the truth. Only the facts.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Would you rather discuss

Would you rather discuss emotions? Tell me how you feel today.

 's picture

From my cold...

...dead hands.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Oh, sorry wood...dy, that

Oh, sorry wood...dy, that fact based comment may be too complex for some to comprehend.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Death comes to us all sooner

Death comes to us all sooner or later.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

It's been said the "Reaper"

It's been said the "Reaper" is never late for an appointment.

 's picture

He certainly was... Sandy Hook and other assault weapon massacre sites. Must make you proud.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

Here we go again. Wood...dy.

Here we go again. Wood...dy. Perhaps you forgot that you started this thread of consciousness – “From my cold dead heads”.
That is what you said?

The ensuing comments have nothing to do with Sandy Hook, and you know that to be true. You are fabricating again.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

You know, "Bob", if you can't

You know, "Bob", if you can't contribute to a conversation without inserting some smart-ass sarcastic derogatory crack, you might consider limiting your participation to a click of the 'disagree' button. You're becoming pretty damn annoying. You and I don't agree on the issue; get over it.

PAUL ST JEAN's picture

They claim to believe in

They claim to believe in something but do not display a belief system (with a few exceptions) that is strong enough to stand their ground over it, so they retreat with a whine. That's called quitting.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Bob , i wouldn't want to be

Bob , i wouldn't want to be in the US Congress . You'd probably get shot •  Violence is a social norm here . AK47 , banana clips & the Easter bunny ?
Remember Gabby and say a little prayer , for her and Jim Brady ( R ) , and all other public servants who have been gunned down in cold blood .
" Anybody here seen my old friend Martin ? " a line from an 60's old song called , ' Abraham, Martin , and John ' ( and Bobby , too )
/s , Steve Dosh Happy Easter ;)

MARK GRAVEL's picture

What perplexes me is so many

What perplexes me is so many individuals, including you, are hung up on assault weapons while they are involved in a negligible fraction of gun homicides per year.

Gabby Giffords– shoot with a handgun.
Jim Brady – shoot with .22 caliber revolver.

Neither shooting involved an assault-style weapon.

So, please tell the readers why assault-style weapons are the Satan of firearms?

It simply does not make sense. Hence, an emotional drive response is all that I can think of for an explanation.

 's picture

Mark, as you know I don't have that problem

As my above comment above makes clear; its the only choice they have. The NRA has left no other avenue open. Its not emotional. The NRA drives people through emotion, fear primarily with irrational, illogical, fantastic, stories and false claims, half-truths, and racial triggers. Culture that's the false claim of the Confederates in the South use to justify their racism now and before the civil war. Their sensitivity on being called racists is proof they are. What makes no sense is the NRA gun-owner as oppressed minority fighting to preserve a way of life that economics, history, and yes real culture has made obsolete several generations ago. This rearguard action will fail just as anti-gay bigotry will fail because the next generation need neither.
What they need is jobs and an end to radical economic inequality, a society of takers at the top and a society of doers at the bottom, and a bigoted white minority which will protect its privileges with violence.
We need the 2nd Amendment. We need responsible gun-owners. We need a place for firearms in the modern world where they are used responsibly. But this temper tantrum, solves nothing and leave a trail of innocent blood no one can justify.

MARK GRAVEL's picture

“The NRA drives people

“The NRA drives people through emotion, fear primarily with irrational, illogical, fantastic, stories and false claims, half-truths, and racial triggers.”
I challenge you to give one example that supports this assertion. It is easy to make these claims, but complete the thought with an example.

“Culture that's the false claim of the Confederates in the South use to justify their racism now and before the civil war.”
This comment is in the foil hat domain.

“Their sensitivity on being called racists is proof they are.”
Boy, that sounds like a fourth grade argument. Just because someone defends themself to name calling does not make it a truth.
“We need the 2nd Amendment. We need responsible gun-owners. We need a place for firearms in the modern world where they are used responsibly.”

Perhaps you don’t realize that the majority of gun owners are responsible. You just don’t hear about them because they are not making front-page news. Irresponsible gun owners are less than one ten of one percent of all gun owners.

Have a good day and make sure to check under you bed for the boogieman before you go to sleep.


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