Two years after Newtown shootings, the NRA won the debate over guns

BY , , , and   December 15, 2014 at 9:27 AM EDT
A display of 7-round .45 caliber handguns are seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York.  Two years after the Newtown shootings, little progress has been made on limiting gun rights. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

A display of 7-round .45 caliber handguns are seen at Coliseum Gun Traders Ltd. in Uniondale, New York. Two years after the Newtown shootings, Americans siding with gun control have made few inroads. Photo by Shannon Stapleton/Reuters

Today in the Morning Line:

  • More Americans side with gun rights over control for first time
  • Despite studies on gun-related deaths, most say gun ownership protects potential victims
  • Giffords, Bloomberg unable to make many inroads

Post-Newtown — Guns in America: Sunday marked two years since 28 people, including 20 children, were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. So where do we stand as a country on the issue of guns? Despite the mass shooting, President Obama and allies in Congress were unable to pass anything related to background checks, despite the overwhelming support in the polls for the measure, let alone limits on ammunition in gun clips. Just how much has the National Rifle Association won the message? Consider: Pew Research’s latest polling shows, for the first time in two decades of surveys, that a majority of Americans think protecting the rights of gun owners (52 percent) is more important than controlling gun ownership (46 percent). In 1993, it was reversed — 57 percent said controlling gun ownership was more important than the 34 percent who said so about protecting gun rights.

Two Years After Newtown, A Shift in Favor of Gun Rights

Most Americans say owning a gun protects potential victims: What’s more, since the Newtown shootings, those saying owning a gun does more to protect someone from becoming a victim of a crime is up nine points from 48 percent to 57 percent. Just 38 percent said it put people’s safety at risk. All of that is despite studies, including one out this year, showing people who own guns are twice as likely to be killed by one and three times more likely to commit suicide.

Increasing Number Say Gun Ownership Protects People From Crime

Gun-control groups face steepest of odds: Despite spending tens of millions of dollars in states and in the 2014 elections, mostly unsuccessfully, gun-control groups, like those started by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are vowing to continue playing in elections. But without a change of culture or politics, especially with an expanded Republican majority in the House and a Senate newly controlled by the GOP, it’s a safe bet that nothing will pass on limiting gun rights. Some of the families of the victims of the Newtown shootings are going a different route — through the courts.

Nomination, immigration fights lead to strange Saturday in the U.S. Senate

The House of Representatives has left Washington, but Senators continue to slog through nominations, as Democrats hope to use their final days in power to greenlight as many of President Obama’s picks as possible. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada gained a procedural advantage from a rare and unusual three-way battle over the weekend. Friday night, Senate conservatives, led by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), demanded the Senate vote on President Obama’s executive actions relative to immigration policy. Cruz and others refused to let the $1.1 billion spending bill move forward without the vote on immigration. With government funding due to end Saturday at midnight, the Senate was forced to hold a rare Saturday session. That timing had another effect. It allowed Reid to begin the process of approving a slate of nominees that other Republicans, including Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, had hoped to stall.

By late in the evening Saturday, leaders reached a deal: the Senate voted on, and rejected, Cruz’s “constitutional point of order” regarding the president’s immigration action by a vote of 22-74. See the breakdown here. The chamber then passed the massive $1.1 trillion spending bill just after 10 p.m., keeping government funded.

Now: the Senate continues the nominee drill, including a final vote expected this evening on controversial surgeon general nominee Vivek Murthy. Conservatives, and some Red State Democrats, have opposed Murthy because of his past comments that gun violence is a public health problem.

Daily Presidential Trivia:
On this day in 1938, President Franklin Roosevelt presided over the ground-breaking ceremonies for the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC. Which two major, historical documents did Jefferson author or write portions of? Be the first to tweet us the correct answer using #PoliticsTrivia and you’ll get a Morning Line shout-out. Congratulations to Kenneth C. Davis (‏@kennethcdavis) for guessing Thursday’s trivia: Which U.S. president had the most experience working in intelligence gathering? The answer was: George H. W. Bush.


  • Mr. Obama lands in New Jersey this afternoon, where he’ll be greeted by Gov. Chris Christie, and give a speech to troops at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

  • Former Vice President Dick Cheney defended the CIA’s interrogation techniques on “Meet the Press” Sunday, saying, “I would do it again in a minute.”

  • “In the 67 years since the C.I.A. was founded, few presidents have had as close a bond with their intelligence chiefs as Mr. Obama has forged” with Director John O. Brennan. And that relationship, the New York Times reports, is shaping how the administration responds to the torture report.

  • By a vote of 50-46, the Senate on Saturday night passed the $1.1 trillion spending bill, which will fund the government through September. The Department of Homeland Security, however, will only be funded through February.

  • The controversial loosening of campaign finance limits tucked into this year’s spending bill started with GOP fears about how they’d pay for their 2016 convention in Cleveland.

  • In an interview with a Miami TV station Sunday, former Gov. Jeb Bush announced that he’ll release all of his emails from his time as governor and an e-book, with a decision to come about whether he’s running “end of this year, early next year.” The Miami Herald’s Marc Caputo calls the e-book announcement sign number six that he’s running. Longtime aides have been meeting with Bush in recent weeks to plot a digitally-savvy campaign, reports The Washington Post’s Robert Costa and Matea Gold.

  • Republicans are not so much vying for their party’s nomination as they are for the role of “Clinton slayer” in 2016.

  • National Journal’s Shane Goldmacher reports on Sen. Rand Paul’s balancing act toward the Republican party, specifically the Chamber of Commerce, as he looks to a 2016 run.

  • Republicans might have the majority in the Senate in the next session of Congress, but they remain a party divided. After a special Saturday session, many GOPers, including South Carolina’s Lindsey Graham, emerged from the meeting frustrated with Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. “Sen. Cruz has got to figure out who he is and what he wants to be,” Graham said.

  • The turmoil within the GOP has allowed Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to end his tenure on a high note.

  • The White House isn’t caving on their nomination of Antonio Weiss to be Treasury undersecretary, despite opposition from some Democrats, led by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who are outraged by the bank-friendly provisions of the spending bill.

  • So much for the spending in the most expensive congressional race this year. Many voters voted along party lines anyway.

  • Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback is facing an even bigger budget shortfall than projected before the election, and that means there’s a chance his tax cuts might be on the line.

  • Environmentalists are hoping cheap oil prices will make it easier for Mr. Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.

  • For the second year in a row, Chris Cillizza awarded Mr. Obama the worst year in Washington.


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