Gun control advocates and their supporters in Congress acknowledged Tuesday that the key to enacting meaningful change in the nation's gun laws is keeping the momentum going as all sides work through the delicate process of crafting policy.
It will be a "major challenge," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who unveiled a bill Tuesday aimed at strengthening background checks and record keeping for ammunition purchases. But, he said in an interview with USA TODAY, he was confident the gravity of the recent violence would keep the public engaged.
"One of the most common observations about these mass atrocities is that public opinion peaks and then it seems to subside as time passes, so the momentum must be sustained," Blumenthal said.
The shooting Dec. 14 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that killed 20 children and six adults caused a "seismic change in public opinion and the political landscape," Blumenthal said. "We've reached a point now where people know something has to be done."
Blumenthal's bill, to be introduced this month, calls for instant background checks for ammunition sales, re-established rules for gun sellers' record keeping and notification by sellers if someone buys 1,000 rounds of ammunition within a short period of time.
It isone of several gun-related bills likely to be introduced when the Senate gavels into session this month - including California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's revamped assault weapons ban and a bill by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that would close the "gun show loophole" and strengthen background checks.
"We are really working together as a coalition," he said. "The leaders of this effort are working very, very closely."
Survivors of a mass-shooting at a Tucson grocery story that killed six and injured 13, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz, marked the two-year anniversary Tuesday by speaking out for stricter gun regulations.
"Enough is enough," said Roxanna Green, whose 9-year-old daughter, Christina-Taylor, was the youngest person killed that day. "The time has to be now because there shouldn't be another Aurora, Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Tucson, [and] definitely, definitely not Newtown.
"If that doesn't touch you, you just don't have a heartbeat," she said.
Green expressed a similar message in an ad Tuesday for Mayors Against Illegal Guns, a coalition co-chaired by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, which aired in Tucson at 10:10 a.m. Arizona time - the exact time a gunman opened fire two years ago. The commercials will air in Washington through Jan. 14 and in five other cities: Waco, Texas; Roanoke, Va.; Denver; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Milwaukee.
Giffords, who was severely injured in the shooting, and her husband, former astronaut Mark Kelly, used the anniversary to launch Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group aimed at starting "a national conversation about gun violence prevention" and raising money "to balance the influence of the gun lobby."
The White House confirmed Vice President Biden, Cabinet officials and senior staff will meet with key groups this week as they continue their work to craft a comprehensive policy solution to the issue of gun control and gun-related violence in the USA.
President Obama tapped Biden to lead the effort last month after the Newtown shooting.
Among those groups will be the National Rifle Association, one of the chief opponents to tighter restrictions.
Andrew Arulanandam, a spokesman for the NRA, said the group received an invitation to meet with Biden's group Friday and plans to send James J. Baker, the director of federal relations for the NRA's lobbying arm, "to hear what they have to say."
(Copyright © 2013 USA TODAY)