Marking the approach of the 20th anniversary of its enactment, the group behind the federal Brady Law on gun control said Tuesday that it will press for more limits even after President Obama’s proposal stalled on Capitol Hill this year.
“We can look at what it took to pass the original Brady Law and say with confidence, ‘It will happen.’ There are parts, in terms of timing though, that are outside of our direct control,” Daniel Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, said in a briefing at the National Press Club. “We are close. It may not be tomorrow, but it will be, and we just need to stay the course.”
The Brady Campaign, named for the White House press secretary wounded in the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981, has become the nation’s leading gun control advocacy group. After the mass shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December, gun control advocates hoped to implement expanded background checks for individuals seeking to purchase firearms.
Despite a concerted push led by Mr. Obama, the Senate in April voted down an amendment that would have expanded background checks to exchanges at gun shows and private online sales.
Opponents of such legislation argue that prohibiting guns will make Americans more vulnerable in crimes such as home invasions. Strong support for Second Amendment rights was highlighted in the Colorado recall election in September in which two Democratic state senators who voted in favor of stricter gun laws were removed from office.
The recall was seen as a significant step back for the Brady Campaign and other gun control organizations and a significant step forward for the National Rifle Association and other Second Amendment advocacy groups.
Campaign founder and Chairwoman Sarah Brady reiterated to her organization’s supporters: “Don’t ever get discouraged. Don’t ever give up on this. We are right. The other side is not right, and we have to make the American people so aware of this that they’ll be behind us in every election.”
The gun debate has become one of the nation’s most polarizing issues.
According to a Gallup poll released last month, “almost half of Americans believe the laws covering the sale of firearms should be strengthened and half say they should stay the same or be less strict.”
The Brady Campaign gave the briefing at the end of its three-day conference and lobbying campaign to pressure Congress to move stricter gun legislation, including the scope of background checks for gun sales that was the target of the Brady Bill.
Mr. Gross said the matter comes down to individuals “taking responsibility for the safety of their own homes, their communities and ultimately our nation.”
“I think we need to acknowledge that there are responsible gun owners,” said Mr. Gross. “You are not a bad person if you think bringing a gun into your home makes it safer. You just are potentially making a very dangerous decision in terms of the health and safety of your family.”
The Brady Bill, which instituted federal background checks on some classes of firearm purchases, was signed by President Clinton on Nov. 30, 1993.