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Two years after Sandy Hook, the gun control movement has new energy

December 17, 2014

December 16, 2014

by Kristin Goss

Washington State voters last month defied the gun lobby and approved a measure extending firearm background checks private transfers. For the gun reform movement, the victory was not only a policy success but also potentially a strategic one, offering a roadmap for activism to come.

That gun reformers see a path forward is significant, because for at least two decades they have lost much ground to their better-funded and better-organized opponents. Firearms laws at the national level and in many states have loosened; the public has grown more supportive of guns in the home and more skeptical about gun regulation; grassroots cadres have arisen to normalize firearms in public life; and political partisans have hardened in a way that makes compromise on the issue very difficult.

Against these strong headwinds, the gun control movement struggled to keep moving. But after a spate of mass shootings — Virginia Tech, Tucson, Aurora, and Sandy Hook, among others — pro-reform groups are mobilizing on a scale not seen in more than a decade and doing so with resources and tools that their predecessors lacked.

As the mighty gun lobby meets a resurgent gun control movement, now is a good time to take stock of the seismic pro-gun shift that happened largely under the radar in every branch of government and at every level – and how gun reformers are taking lessons from their opponents in how to change laws and culture.

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