- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Gun-control advocates said Wednesday there have been at least 44 school shootings in the 14 months since the Newtown, Conn., massacre, including 13 since the beginning of 2014, as the activists demanded Congress return to the thorny issue.

Moms Demand Gun Sense in America, which issued a report, said those 44 shootings left 28 dead and another 37 injured. Some of the shootings were suicides and others were unintentional.

The report was timed to coincide with the 14-month mark since a gunman went on a shooting spree at Sandy Hook Elementary School, killing 20 students and six faculty members.

The group said its report should prod a Congress that has shown little interest in gun control after President Obama’s failed push last year for expanded background checks and bans on some semiautomatic rifles and high-capacity ammunition magazines.

Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut Democrat, implied that there would be consequences at the ballot box if Congress doesn’t take the issue up again.

“As outraged as I am at this report, as angry as I am about what’s happening in Congress today, I know it will change,” Mr. Murphy said. “I know it will change because Congress can’t stay this far out of step with the American public for too long before democracy corrects that imbalance.”

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, whose husband was killed in a shooting spree on the Long Island Rail Road in 1993, urged advocates to take a longer-term view.

“I think all of you have to remember it’s going to be a long battle,” the New York Democrat told supporters at an event on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

“From where we started 20 years ago to where we are today, there is movement. You know, when I hear people say nothing has been done since Newtown … the conversation’s still going on.”

Ms. McCarthy said the movement is winning a lot of battles in individual states, for example — many of which have passed their own strict controls in the wake of Newtown.

On the other hand, about half of the state legislatures across the country have tried to loosen gun laws over the same time period — in many cases successfully. Legislators in Illinois, for example, overrode Gov. Pat Quinn’s veto of concealed-carry legislation in July, making the Prairie State the final one to adopt some form of concealed-carry law.

At the federal level, Mr. Obama has taken unilateral action to make it easier for states to turn over more mental health records to the national database — a move some members of Congress are also embracing as a way to cast a wider net in trying to keep firearms out of the hands of the mentally ill.

Still, Mr. Murphy said the response from Congress on the issue has been “at best, indifference, and I would argue at times, complicity.”

He pointed to a recent debate in a Senate committee over whether to allow people to carry guns into Post Offices. The Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs committee ultimately rejected that proposal from Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, but did vote unanimously to allow guns on post office grounds.

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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