The heroic and inspiring role played by the families of the Sandy Hook massacre’s victims should not be used to create what would be a dangerously misleading narrative about how they changed the politics of guns.
The importance of last Thursday’s 68 to 31 vote in the Senate to proceed with debate on a bill to curb gun violence cannot be understated, and the testimonies from the citizens of Newtown, Conn., were vital to that victory.
To say this is not to deny that many fights loom ahead. This was a vote to debate, not to pass, a bill — and the House of Representatives could prove an even larger obstacle to change than the Senate. We should not be blind to the skill of the weapon manufacturers’ lobby at the art of undercutting legislation through subtle amendments.
And this legislative round is unlikely to lead to all the reforms that President Obama proposed or that the country needs. It will be vital in the coming weeks to battle for additional measures beyond the background checks deal negotiated between Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), notably a ban on high-capacity magazines.