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headlines on hearings at newtown
Danbury news-Times, Jan 30 and Jan 31, 2013
Newtown hearings. Warning: emotionally raw

NY Times:

NEWTOWN, Conn. — In riveting testimony repeatedly interrupted by standing ovations, parents, public officials, law enforcement officers and school employees issued a full-throated call on Wednesday night for strengthening the nation’s gun laws in the wake of the massacre of 26 children and educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December.
WaPo has an op-ed written by Sandy Hook parents Mark and Jackie Barden:
We have joined with other families, neighbors and friends in making the Sandy Hook Promise (www.sandyhookpromise.org). We hope every member of Congress and Americans nationwide will join us in pledging to honor the lives lost last month by coming together to end these violent tragedies...

Our son’s future was stolen from him: There will be no firehouse, no more rock band, no Boston Marathon.

But if our nation uses this moment to make the future brighter for other children, Daniel’s life and the lives of his classmates and educators will have meaning for years to come.

Our nation’s ability to deal with gun violence is limited only by the civility of our discourse, the scope of our ambitions and — as Daniel would have done — our willingness to come together and take action.


Hint: if the moderator of a public meeting says you will be cleared from room if you don't shut up, you are heckling
@davidfrum via Twitterrific

More on the Senate gun violence hearings and other topics below the fold...

Greg Sargent:

There is no evidence for LaPierre’s suggestion that background checks don’t work. Indeed, as my Post colleague Glenn Kessler has shown, in 2010 alone tens of thousands of people with felony and criminal backgrounds were denied guns by checks. More broadly, over 1.5 million gun sales to people who are prohibited from having guns have been blocked by background checks. There is no way to know what would have been done with those guns had those sales gone through, since that is a counter-factual. But the question for those who oppose background checks remains a simple one: Do you think we would be better off if those sales had gone through, or is it a good thing that those sales were blocked?

And LaPierre’s suggestion fails the test of basic logic. If criminals don’t cooperate with background checks, and end up getting their guns from private sellers or gun shows, or from gun dealers who get them via such means, that is an argument for expanding the background check system, not an argument against it.

And Greg Sargent:
Meanwhile, the conservative blogger Ed Morrissey tentatively came out for expanded background checks today, rightly acknowledging that they are moving forward, with this:

Bipartisan effort to expand background checks quietly gains steam

This is what’s really happening, even as reporters obsess over red state Dems balking at the assault weapons ban and even as the cameras dwell on the Second Amendment fulminating of GOP Senators and NRA officials. It’s too bad so many news orgs are missing this part of the story. It’s a good one.

Quinnipiac:
Gun-control laws in the Keystone State and in the nation should be stricter, Pennsylvania voters say, with overwhelming 19-1 support for laws requiring background checks for all gun buyers, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

Pennsylvania gun-control laws should be stricter, 57 percent of voters tell the independent Quinnipiac (KWIN-uh-pe-ack) University poll, while 4 percent say less strict and 35 percent say keep state laws as they are. National gun-control laws should be stricter, 60 percent of statewide voters say, with 5 percent saying less strict and 32 percent saying keep current laws.

Charles Blow:
Universal background checks would seem a basic and exceedingly reasonable proposal. I would add that there should also be universal prosecutions for being intentionally misleading during those checks. But LaPierre is a different kind of person. His interests are not the same as most Americans’. His organization and the majority of so-called “pro gun rights” groups are in the business of unfettered gun proliferation as a means of increasing gun industry profit.

This is about money, pure and simple.

EJ Dionne:
Think back to the battle over health-care reform. Can you imagine that Republicans, upon hearing that President Obama was about to offer his own proposals, would want to rush ahead of him to put their own marker down — and take positions close to his?

That’s the comparison to keep in mind to understand the extraordinary transformation of Beltway politics on immigration reform. Until Obama was reelected, party competition translated into Republican efforts to block virtually everything the president wanted to accomplish. On immigration, at least, the parties are now competing to share credit for doing something big. It’s wonderful to behold.

Dana Milbank:
It is too early to call a requiem for the tea party. The informal movement still dominates the House Republicans. And the GOP’s puritanical primary process, encouraged by the redrawing of districts to protect Republican seats, guarantees that the far right will remain entrenched in the party for some time. Fresh evidence of the phenomenon can be seen in the decision by Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) to retire rather than face a primary challenge from the right.

But if the tea party isn’t over, some of the more sensible partygoers are heading for the exits, realizing that things are getting rowdy and the neighbors may soon be calling the cops. Republicans with national ambitions — Jindal, McDonnell, New Jersey’s Chris Christie — are moderating their images and views in ways that keep pace with the electorate.

Remember, when Republicans or Democrats or plain ol' pundits talk about the "stupid party", we are talking about the tea party.
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