'Moms' force parties to rethink US gun laws
Tuesday 16 May 2000
Democratic and Republican politicians were confronting the possibility of a signal change in the American political landscape yesterday after the massive turnout at Sunday's Million Mom March in favour of tougher gun laws.
Even the fiercest opponents of the gun-control cause conceded that the predominantly suburban crowd on Washington's National Mall probably exceeded half a million, while the organisers claimed a crowd approaching 750,000. Parallel demonstrations by gun advocates were held in Washington and across the United States, but attracted far fewer people.
Responding to the success of Sunday's march, Wayne LaPierre of the National Rifle Association (NRA) said gun registration and licensing - measures demanded by the marchers - would be tantamount to "a controlled burn of the second amendment ... and setting fire to freedom should never be the answer". The NRA, which has 3.5 million members and contributes to the campaign funds of many Republican Congressmen, is expected to make a fuller response at its national convention, which opens in North Carolina on Friday.
Donna Dees-Thomases, who instigated the Million Mom March, urged the marchers to continue their involvement with the gun control movement by forming groups to lobby state and national politicians.
Connie Morella, a Maryland Republican Congresswoman sympathetic to gun control, reiterated the importance of building on the achievements of the march if the anti-gun movement was to become a political force. And the New York Times said in an editorial: "The hands that rock the nation's cradles have the potential to rock its political institutions - but only if they keep rocking hard."
A point repeatedly emphasised by speakers at Sunday's rally was the potential voting power of the protesters, many of whom had travelled hundreds of miles to make their voices heard. This overwhelmingly white, middle-class constituency were seen by analysts as key to the election of Bill Clinton, and no presidential candidate can afford to take their loyalty for granted.
Speakers called on mothers to cast or withhold their vote on the single issue of gun control. This opens the prospect of gun control being used by the political left and centre in a similar way to the use of the issue of abortion by the conservative right. Their voting strength may help to explain why the Governor of Texas, George W Bush, announced on the eve of the march that the state would offer free child-proofing trigger locks to anyone who wanted them. Mr Bush said that he would also subsidise a similar measure nationwide should he become president.
Capitalising on the support for gun control as shown in Sunday's march, President Clinton yesterday renewed his call for Congress to pass the gun-control legislation that has been stalled since its defeat in the House last year.
One notable absentee, both yesterday and from the march, was the Vice-President, Al Gore, whose casting vote had ensured passage of the legislation through the Senate. One explanation for his low profile on the issue could be a poll last week which suggested he was unexpectedly losing support among male voters, most of whom support gun ownership.
- 1 President of Argentina adopts Jewish godson to 'stop him turning into a werewolf'
- 2 Doctors remove 80 teeth from boy's jaw
- 3 The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
- 4 Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations
- 5 Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Germany and ECB set for fight over money-printing
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing
The 'Black Museum': After 150 years, public set to see exhibits from police’s grisly crime museum
Syrian teenager Usaid Barho reveals how he escaped from Isis using a suicide vest
Sir Winston Churchill’s family begged him not to convert to Islam, letter reveals
Millions of Britons struggling to feed themselves and facing malnourishment
British actor Idris Elba cannot star as James Bond because he is black, says shock jock Rush Limbaugh
Ukip member gets into Christmas spirit with Union Flag plea to Santa 'for our country back'
Germany anti-Islam protests: 17,000 march on Dresden against 'Islamification of the West'
Nigel Farage: Ukip leader named 'Briton of the year' by The Times
Immigrants make UK racist, says Ukip councillor Trevor Shonk
£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Manager is required ...
£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...
£20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Panel Wireman required for small electro...
£25000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SME based in East Cheshire, ...