Brady Campaign Calls On Gillibrand To Sponsor Gun-control Bill


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A gun-control group is calling on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to sponsor a gun-control bill to show that she’s evolving from being a favorite of the gun lobby to a true blue-state senator.

“She’s saying she realizes that she represents a statewide constituency,” said Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. “One way she could prove she has evolved is to push this issue.”

Helmke said his group is seeking a meeting with Gillibrand to ask her to support legislation to require background checks on gun sales at gun shows, commonly referred to by activists as “closing the gun-show loophole.” A message left with Gillibrand’s office was not returned Tuesday afternoon.

Gillibrand’s pro-gun views and “A-rating” from the National Rifle Association were a plus in holding a gun-toting New York district as a Democrat. But they drew protests as soon as Gov. David Paterson (D) selected her to replace now-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Anti-gun groups and liberal bloggers protested the appointment. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.) threatened to take Gillibrand on in a primary or to support a gun-control backer who would challenge the new senator.

McCarthy has a deep personal connection to the issue, having lost her husband to a shooting massacre in 1993.

But Gillibrand has maintained that she understands that her constituency changed considerably when she changed jobs.

Helmke initially called Gillibrand’s record “disappointing.” In a blog post Tuesday about changing views on gun issues, he suggested that Gillibrand could make up a lot of ground by co-sponsoring the gun-show legislation.

In an interview, McCarthy said that simply sponsoring a bill would not satisfy her. She would want to see Gillibrand work with fellow senators to build the support needed to pass one.

“I think it would be terrific” for Gillibrand to sponsor gun-show background checks, McCarthy said. “There’s much more to do than introducing a bill. We’re a year away. A year is a long time.”

Purchases at gun stores from licensed dealers require a criminal background check. But some gun-show purchases are considered private sales, similar to a sale between neighbors or friends, and as such do not require a background check.

Gun-show background checks became an issue after the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, which left dead 12 students, one teacher and the two gunmen. Three of the four guns used were purchased at a gun show by one of the shooter’s friends, who said she wouldn’t have done so if she’d had to give her name.

Colorado passed a gun-show background-check bill in a statewide referendum by an overwhelming vote. But on the national level, the legislation stalled in a Republican-controlled Congress.

By: By Mike Soraghan

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