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Politicians: Don’t fear gun lobby

Jared L. Loughner was the one being sentenced for last year’s shooting that left six people dead and 13 wounded. But some of the strongest words of condemnation at his sentencing were directed – deservedly so – at political leaders for their cowardly refusal to debate, let alone deal with, gun violence.

As Loughner awaited sentencing for the shooting that targeted and critically injured Gabrielle Giffords, her husband delivered a stinging denouncement of the failure to enact gun control. Mark Kelly’s words bear repeating:

“We have representatives who look at gun violence not as a problem to solve but as the white elephant in the room to ignore. As a nation, we have repeatedly passed up the opportunity to address this issue. After Columbine, after Virginia Tech, after Tucson and after Aurora, we have done nothing.”

The decision by state and national figures to go AWOL on gun control in fear of what they perceive to be the powerful clout of the gun lobby leaves this critical safety issue unaddressed.

And yet the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence showed that, of the $11.8 million spent to defeat President Obama and $3.4 million across six key Senate races – 88 percent of its federal independent expenditures – the gun lobby could claim no victories; all of its candidates lost.

This evidence that the association’s ability to influence elections may be exaggerated should stiffen the spines of Obama and congressional leaders to take on this important issue.

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