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Time is an enemy when it comes to Congress doing something to make another massacre like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School less likely; as time passes, the horror will fade for many not directly affected by the murder of 20 children and six adults, and the gun lobby will have a chance to go to work on members of Congress. But for now, the momentum is on the side of making a change, with even some gun-related businesses responding to the new environment. In maybe the best sign of how potent an issue this is, the National Rifle Association has gone silent:
Its Facebook page has disappeared. It has not sent a message on Twitter since the extent of the carnage became clear. And no leaders of the 4.3 million-member organization appeared on the talk shows this past Sunday, two days after the shooting.
The NRA isn't the only defender of limitless gun ownership to have gone silent since Sandy Hook, but it's perhaps the most reliably shameless one, until now. In the political threat vacuum the NRA's silence leaves, and following pro-gun West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin's determination to "look at ways we can make our country and our children more safe," two more pro-gun Democrats, Sen.-elect Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Sen.-Elect Joe Donnelly of Indiana, have said they're willing to start talking about changes to gun laws.
Arizona Rep. Ron Barber has continued speaking about the 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabby Giffords, which he also survived, saying, "The young man that shot those of us in Tucson last year was carrying clips that had 30 rounds in them and in a matter of ... seconds he was able to unload all of those bullets and shot 19 people, six of them died." Nor is Barber the only member of Congress whose life was changed by a mass shooting—New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy's husband was killed in the 1993 Long Island Railroad shootings.
Meanwhile, retail chain Dick's Sporting Goods has taken the guns out of its store closest to Newtown, Connecticut, and suspended the sale of "modern sporting rifles" from its website nationally. The guns will come back to Dick's at some point, but that's not the only business responding to the shootings. Private equity firm Cerberus is trying to sell off Freedom Group Inc., the largest U.S. gunmaker, which manufactured the Bushmaster semi-automatic rifle apparently used by Adam Lanza. Cerberus says it doesn't want to be "drawn into the national debate" on gun control, and apparently profiting from the sale of the weapon used in the Sandy Hook killings is a little too debate-adjacent for comfort.
It's time for action, before people start to forget the shock and horror of last Friday and the gun lobby comes back with a unified squeal of outrage that restricting the possession of weapons of mass killing might be seen as a reasonable way to prevent mass killings. Help keep the momentum going—sign the petition urging President Barack Obama to push for a real national conversation on gun control.
Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Tue Dec 18, 2012 at 08:24 AM PST.