Since the Tucson shooting on Jan. 8, federal gun control advocates have made little headway and many states are considering expanding gun rights. Why?
Far from launching a flurry of comprehensive gun-control bills in Congress and statehouses, the Jan. 8 mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., has instead only emphasized how entrenched gun rights have become in America during the past 20 years.
The 1994 ban on assault weapons – which has since lapsed – remains the last major piece of gun-control legislation passed by Congress. While a number of gun-control measures are now being proposed on Capitol Hill in the aftermath of the attack on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D) of Arizona, none is sweeping and each could well fail.
Meanwhile, states are actively expanding gun rights. Even in the days after the Tucson attack, Arizona legislators moved forward with a plan to allow guns on college campuses.
The national recalibration on gun control comes as Americans' interpretation of the Second Amendment has shifted – embracing the right to "keep and bear arms" as a fundamental expression of individual rights. Within conservative groups like the tea party, gun rights has become a primary symbol of the pushback against the steady expansion of the federal government's purview.
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