SourceWatch Editor Beth Wellington on Gun Control Legislation

Managing Editor's note: This is a guest piece by User:Beth Wellington, one of SourceWatch's citizen editors who writes at The Writing Corner. It does not necessarily represent the views of the Center for Media and Democracy or the Sunlight Foundation. We welcome all informative, quality submissions related to Congress and Congresspedia articles, regardless of the point of view. If you'd like to submit a post for publication on the front page, see the guest writing info page. An interesting note about the Congresspedia article on U.S. gun control legislation: It was started by User:Elliott Fullmer when he was working with User:Kd7one, who strongly opposes gun control and added sections to the profiles of dozens of members of Congress who had sponsored such legislation. Beth found the article and expanded it because she supports much gun control and wanted to document the current legislation in light of the focus on the issue after the April killings at Virginia Tech. To borrow from the late Sen. Patrick Moynihan, we're all entitled to different opinions, but it's nice to have a place where we can work together on gathering the same facts.

Cho Seung-Hui bought two semi-automatics – a Walther P-22LR February 2, 2007 from in Green Bay, Wisc. and a Glock 19 with 50 rounds of ammo March 13 at Roanoke Firearms. Then, on April 16, the Virginia Tech senior murdered thirty-two fellow students and faculty members in Blacksburg before killing himself.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), one of the House's strongest gun control advocates, introduced that day the Anti-Large Capacity Ammunition Feeding Device Act of 2007 (H.R.1859). The bill seeks to reinstate and strengthen the prohibition on possessing or transferring such devices, which were illegal until the expiration of the 1994 assault gun ban in 2004. McCarthy has garnered no co-sponsors to date, although early speculation that Cho had used high capacity magazines proved true. As reported April 19, State Police told NBC correspondent Pete Williams they had found 17 magazines, some of which held 33 rounds of ammunition each.

On April 19, Bristol Township, Pa. police say a 16-year old Conwell-Egan Catholic High School student, distraught over a break-up, wrote a note threatening to kill 34 people and "break the record." The soldiers for the gun lobby came out in force, saying "guns don't kill people," pointing to the 12th anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing on April 19. The next day, of course, marked the 8th anniversary of Columbine.

Pundits attribute Al Gore's loss in 2000 to his support of gun control. The NRA campaigned against John Kerry in 2004. In the run-up to the 2008 presidential race, it remains to be seen how far Congress will go in confront the organization by passing gun control legislation. This much remains sure: the Virginia Tech Massacre has turned public attention to U.S. gun laws. As Ladd Everitt of the Coalition to End Gun Violence said on April 18, "I don't know what the tipping point is. At some point, the public will just have to stand up and say 'enough.'"

In the last few weeks, I've been working on updating the Congresspedia article on U.S. gun legislation. You can find my overview of the proposed changes on the May 2 entry of my piece, The Writing Corner. For related posts, click on the tags at the bottom of the entry.