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Gun change?

We could be two weeks away from some real progress on gun violence. First of all, Congress could pass universal background checks within the next couple of weeks. Yes, many of us Mothers would have liked to have seen a federal ban on assault weapons but the bottom line is it isn’t the gun but the mentally unstable shooter that Americans need protection from. Universal background checks will close the loopholes that make it so easy for guns to be bought legally than traded illegally and dropped into that tattered net that allows too many guns to end up in the wrong hands. 

Second, the National Rifle Association is expected to announce the details of its National School Shield Program tomorrow and in all likelihood, it will call for armed guards in our nation’s schools. The question is, “Is Sandy Hook far enough behind us, that the NRA will get a different response to its suggestion than the collective cringe Wayne LePierre got when he first brought up the idea?”  Slate.com  is running two articles to counter tomorrow’s NRA backed proposals. The first is a reminder that an armed guard wasn’t able to stop the shootings in Columbine; the second says we can’t afford to put armed security in our country’s schools because it will cost 5.5 billion dollars.  

In terms of what’s coming down the pike, we are really looking forward to seeing what Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri (R-Mo) is planning in terms of interventions and better treatment for the mentally ill.  Because, when all is said and done, that is the most frightening part of the gun violence equation, isn’t it? Here’s a look at what Blunt said recently about this being more important in many ways than background checks. 

From Examiner.com: 

“I won’t support any proposals that infringe on Americans’ constitutional rights or ultimately prevent two neighbors from trading shotguns,” Blunt said. “Instead, I’m focusing my efforts on improving mental health policies to ensure we’re spending federal dollars more wisely when it comes to identifying, treating, and caring for people who are mentally ill.”

Blunt is a co-sponsor of three mental health measures: the Excellence in Mental Health Act, the Mental Health First Aid Act of 2013 and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act.

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Act “will help make communities safer by improving access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system who need treatment,” according to Blunt. “The bill also focuses on giving law enforcement officers the tools they need to identify and respond to mental health issues, and includes a 5-year reauthorization of the ‘Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act’ (MIOTCRA), continuing support for mental health courts, and crisis intervention teams.”

In the meantime, all this gun talk is playing out against what has sadly become more background chatter than front page alarm, like the 4 year old shot by a 6 year old in Miami and the news that the shooter in the movie theatre shootings in Aurora, Colorado last summer will face the death penalty. Regardless of where you stand on the second amendment and the death penalty, at the end of the day, it’s all part of the same conversation, isn’t it?  But the reality is the conversation is approaching a low din, at least according to the latest polls, as reported by the Wall Street Journal,  

“In a CBS News poll taken in late March, 47% of adults polled said gun laws should be “more strict,” down from 57% in December, shortly after the shooting. And yet, support for broader background checks remains strong. Roughly nine in 10 Americans support a universal background check, according to an ABC News poll taken in March.”

Something needs to be done but perhaps the most important thing is to keep the conversation going. It would be a sad result if nothing changes after Moms across the country made a collective promise that the 20 students and 6 staff members who lost their lives in the Sandy Hook shootings would not have died in vain. 

 

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Colorado moving swiftly to pass sweeping gun control laws  /

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A battle for 7 states

By JONATHAN MARTIN | 10/23/12 4:37 AM EDT

BOCA RATON, Fla. — The two presidential campaigns are sounding sharply different notes about how they can get to 270 electoral votes, but beneath the post-debate bravado from both sides there is a rough consensus about the shape of the race in its final two weeks.

Top strategists for both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney flooded the media center following the third and final presidential debate here Monday night, and made clear they will be primarily fighting over seven states and will spend most of their time and money in them between now and Nov. 6.

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Spin room reactions

Campaigns describe final push

Obama, Romney best lines

 

(Also on POLITICO: 7 takeaways from final debate)

The main battlegrounds: Ohio, Iowa, Colorado, Virginia, New Hampshire, Florida and Wisconsin. The late inclusion of Wisconsin on this list reflects a bet by Romney — buoyed by some polls showing an opportunity for him there — that he can turn a state that has not voted for a Republican presidential nominee since 1984.

Romney officials, eyeing steady gains in the polls, have not ruled out attempting to broaden the map in other states — claims met with disparagement by Obama aides, who say they remain confident their electoral college firewall is intact even amid a tightening national race and signs that three swing states in the South are looking more favorable for the GOP nominee.

Republicans are genuinely intrigued by the prospect of a strike in Pennsylvania and, POLITICO has learned, are considering going up on TV there outside the expensive Philadelphia market. But what Romney officials worry about, both in Pennsylvania and Michigan, is that if they put some cash down or use precious hours to send their candidate there Obama will respond by crushing their offensive with a big ad buy of his own.

(Also on POLITICO: 6 questions that will settle the election)

So while Boston is open to the idea of going into such traditional Democratic strongholds, it is still mostly playing within the same map the two candidates have been locked in for months. And, increasingly, it is narrowing its focus as prospects improve in North Carolina, Florida and Virginia.

“That states that we’re playing in are the states we need to win,” noted Romney strategist Russ Schriefer. “We’ll see what happens in the next two weeks. We’re going to concentrate on Ohio and Colorado and Iowa and New Hampshire.”

“We’ll be in Ohio a lot,” added Romney strategist Stuart Stevens.

The Romney campaign is already airing TV ads in Wisconsin. The former Massachusetts governor has not been to the state since he tapped Paul Ryan as his running mate in August but is headed back soon.

(Also on POLITICO: Mitt Romney: I come in peace)

“We’ll be back in Wisconsin,” said Eric Fehrnstrom. “Wisconsin is definitely in play.”

Obama officials, meanwhile, are convinced that they have a lead in Ohio, Wisconsin, Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada — and aren’t yet willing to write off Colorado, Florida and Virginia.

But senior Democrats increasingly recognize that their path to 270 electoral votes is not in the latter three but in the Midwest.

“Iowa, Wisconsin and Ohio are crucial — if we win those three states, the president is reelected,” said Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), a close Obama ally.

(Also on POLITICO: Media: Obama in fighting mood)

Obama adviser Robert Gibbs put it another way, saying Romney’s fate would depend on whether he can sweep the trio of Big 10 states.

“We intend to go out and win each of the three of those states,” said Gibbs.

And Pennsylvania and Michigan? They’re not worried and aren’t likely to send Obama there.

“Probably not, no,” said Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter when asked if the president would rally supporters in the two traditionally Democratic electoral troves. “We have significant resources there. We are invested in those states at a much higher level than Gov. Romney is.”