Six months after Sandy Hook, grassroot groups and the gun debate
After the horror of the Newtown shooting, gun reform advocates expected to finally see a change. Yet Friday marks the six-month anniversary of the tragedy at the Sandy Hook Elementary School and, largely due to the efforts of the gun lobby, none of the nation’s federal gun laws have changed.
“The NRA and special interests have been schoolyard bullies,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut told reporters after a press conference Thursday with Newtown family members in the Capitol. “We lost the first vote, but we’re going to win the last vote.”
Groups on both sides of the debate including Mayors Against Illegal Guns and the National Rifle Association have already begun spending money on attack ads against senators who did not vote as the groups’ wished this spring. But advocates on both sides seem to agree that the debate will be decided not by money but by the ability to mobilize grassroots support and voters.
“[A] real grassroots gun control movement? It doesn’t exist, and has never existed,” recentlynoted Sebastian, a pen name for a popular Second Amendment activist and blogger in Pennsylvania read by activists on both sides. The blogger has dismissed well-financed gun reform efforts as “astroturf,” as opposed to real grassroots support, deriding Mayor Bloomberg as “Astroturf-in-Chief.”
“Sebastian’s right about the past,” Mark Glaze, the director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told MSNBC.com. “For a generation, the NRA had three advantages,” he added. The gun lobby has long enjoyed a strong grassroots base, members who make gun rights a priority when they vote, and a budget of up to $250 million a year to strengthen their clout.
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