Gun control dead…or is it?

With last week’s Senate rejection of major pieces of gun control legislation, is the issue dead?

The bipartisan plan, led by West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin, for expanded background checks on those purchasing firearms tallied 54 votes but failed to garner the necessary 60 votes for adoption.

The Democrat-proposed legislation outlawing “assault rifles” and large-capacity ammunition magazines also failed, leaving the president and his political party floundering under the well-financed National Rifle Association media campaign against any expanded gun control, citing Second Amendment rights. The only issue the NRA lost was to make it easier for concealed carry holders to carry weapons from state to state.

Sadly, some gun control advocates and members of Congress commented after the Senate rejection that it will take another mass shooting like the massacre at Newtown, Conn., to bring the issue before Congress again, even though polls indicate the American public supports some additional gun controls, including background checks on those buying firearms at gun shows and barring those with a mental illness history from purchasing firearms.

Meanwhile, the president has vowed to take action on his own to aid in the effort to end gun-related violence. What action he will take … or try to take … is unclear.

After the Sandy Hook school murders, President Obama proposed extending federal background checks to almost all gun sales; passing a new, stronger ban on the sale on some semi-automatic rifles considered assault weapons; banning the sale of ammunition magazines with more than 10 rounds; providing money to help more schools add police officers, psychologists, social workers or counselors and helping more people get mental health care.

The major portions of Obama’s proposals have been defeated in Congress.

The president also issued executive orders to encourage states to submit more data to the federal background check system and to direct government agencies to study causes and prevention of gun violence.

With the Senate’s rejection of the bipartisan background check plan and the House of Representatives being firmly in the hands of the traditionally pro-gun Republican Party, it certainly would seem any future federal controls on gun purchases and/or ownership are dead.

  • ??

The rush to get information to the public, especially in this day of Internet media and newspaper websites, sometimes means a breaking news article has to be repeatedly updated and the initial posting might be proven wrong by subsequent information and postings.

Last week that’s exactly what happened.

The News and Sentinel saw on every major cable service and via the Associated Press news feed that federal authorities were quoted as being within minutes of making an arrest in the Boston Marathon bombing case. As did media across the nation, The News and Sentinel posted that information on our website site as breaking news.

A short time later, the cable networks and the AP, from which we get our national news, put out stories that a suspect had been arrested and momentarily would appear in federal court, which The News and Sentinel also put on our website as an update to the original breaking news.

Then, the AP and cable networks began quoting federal officials that no arrest had been made and earlier reports were incorrect, which The News and Sentinel also posted on our website as still another update.

Breaking news is fluid; reporting it often means it has to be updated and possibly corrected as a story unfolds, but that’s why it is “breaking news” and why it is updated.

The question always for the media is do we report what is being told to us or do we wait … and how long do we wait … and upon whom do we rely for having the most correct information … and if we wait, will the public think authorities and/or we are trying to hide something? Always interesting questions, especially in this age of instantly available Internet news.

Contact Jim Smith at jsmith@newsandsentinel.com