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Democrats, GOP spar over political effects of gun control defeat

June 20, 1999
Web posted at: 10:56 p.m. EDT (0256 GMT)

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 20) -- Democratic leaders in Congress may have failed in their quest to push through gun control provisions last week, but they are convinced that their loss in the House could eventually turn into a victory at the ballot box.

"The Republicans lost a major, major issue as we look to the coming year. The American people are going to understand that 80 percent of Democrats support what we tried to do in the House this week," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota).

gun buyers
Polls show that more than 60 percent of American voters are in favor of stricter gun control laws  

"What I told members (was) you've got to make a decision to take this on, run on it, explain it, fight for it. And if you do that, it will work out," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) Sunday on ABC's "This Week" program.

After losing on an amendment that shortened the waiting period for instant background checks at gun shows from three days to one day, most Democrats decided to vote against the underlying gun control bill. The measure then went down to defeat when anti-gun control Republicans joined the Democrats in the "no" column.

The decision to oppose the bill because they didn't like the gun show amendment has prompted some GOP leaders to accuse Democrats of playing politics with the issue of youth violence.

"I'm afraid the Democrats are more interested in having an issue than in closing the loopholes in the existing laws -- not to mention enforcing existing laws," said GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes on CBS's "Face The Nation."

With polls showing more than 60 percent of American voters in favor of stricter gun control laws, even some legislators who generally oppose additional firearms regulations are eager to point out that they do favor some restrictions.

"There are some important things I did in the Senate, like make sure that children don't possess semi-automatic assault weapons," said Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Missouri) on CNN's "Late Edition."

As Senate and House leaders negotiate a final juvenile justice bill, some of the less controversial gun control measures that didn't make it out of the House -- such as requiring child safety locks -- still have a good chance of ultimately passing.

The political wrangling over guns, however, is likely to continue through the next congressional elections in 2000.

Correspondent Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.

How did your representative vote?

House rejects gun control legislation

House rejects measure for mandatory gun-show background checks

House approves NRA-backed amendment on gun-show background checkes

House passes juvenile justice bill

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House approves NRA-backed 24-hour gun show checks

House moves on gun, youth violence measures

Clinton urges House to strengthen the Brady law (6-15-99)

Clinton slams House on guns (6-9-99)

Juvenile justice bill to go to House floor (6-8-99)

Volatile gun control issue has cooled in House after recess (6-7-99)

Gun litigation follows example of tobacco cases (6-6-99)


U.S. Department of Justice
  • Attorney General


Bob Franken reports on the amendment passed by the House Thursday night (6-18-99) video Windows Media: 28K | 80K

CROSSFIRE Highlight: Should the Ten Commandments be posted in schools? (6-18-99) video Real: 28K | 80K, Windows Media: 28K | 80K



Gun litigation timeline

Gun laws at-a-glance

Gun laws by state

Cities vs. guns


"Guns under fire"


Sunday, June 20, 1999

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