WASHINGTON – Routine has become so predictable that some gun control activists see familiarity with the tragedy as their biggest obstacle to achieving the change they have sought in a decade.

The rampage of a gunman that killed eight people on Thursday in Indianapolis has become the latest mass shooting to spark the well-known pattern of condolences, lowered flags and a grim presidential statement calling on Congress to act.

With the cycle typically ending in a legislative deadlock before repeating itself, activists seize the latest wave of deadly shootings in an attempt to disrupt the system.

“God help us if we ever get complacent, or if it becomes routine and we look away,” said Mark Barden, co-founder of gun violence prevention group Sandy Hook Promise. “I believe we now have an opportunity for a two-party gun safety solution, and I’m trying to make people understand that everyone is on the bridge.”

With Democrats in control of the White House, House and Senate for the first time in a decade, the recent spate of mass shootings has encouraged activists to push for new legislation restricting access to guns. But without a clear consensus on how to achieve an elusive goal – and with the White House reluctant to spend limited political capital on a prospect with long chances – there is palpable fear among gun control groups that their best chance in years to change the nation’s gun laws could once again end in failure.

“Personally, it was exceptionally difficult to get out of bed today,” Max Markham, policy director for March for Our Lives, said Friday after news of the massacre at a FedEx facility in Indianapolis. “But at the end of the day, we’re doing our job as activists and as people who care about this issue, and it’s really up to the Senate to do its job.”

March for Our Lives, a group that formed in 2018 after a high school shooting in Parkland, Florida killed 17 students and staff, plans to bring several students to Washington this week to push the Lawmakers to pass background check legislation, which most groups have rallied around as their most likely chance for success.

Moms Demand Action, another gun control group, recently made a 16,000 mile trip across the country to advocate for legislation expanding background checks for gun purchases, a said founder Shannon Watts. The tour was supported by Everytown for Gun Safety, a leading advocate for gun regulation.

“We can’t give up. About 100 Americans are shot and killed every day. Hundreds more are injured,” Watts said. “It’s not something where anyone can afford to sit on the sidelines and just say, ‘This is it. “”

While legislation requiring background checks for all gun buyers has passed the House, the odds remain long in the Senate, where Democrats hold a razor thin majority.

Congress has repeatedly refused to respond to mass shootings in recent years, although they have become more frequent, with Democrats pushing for gun restrictions opposed by Republicans. Although the stalemate has persisted for years, the shootings last month have renewed pressure from some lawmakers to try to find a bipartisan compromise.

Weeks before the country saw back-to-back mass shootings in Atlanta and Boulder, Colo., The House passed two bills mostly based on parties that would lengthen the review period for background checks and make them mandatory for all sales and transfers of firearms.

Both bills are unlikely to be approved by the Senate, which would require 10 Republicans to join all Democrats to pass them. Senator Joe Manchin, DW.Va., has also voiced his opposition to House bills. President Biden has expressed support for the legislation but said his priority is to control the pandemic and rebuild the economy.

Democrats, led by Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut, are still working behind the scenes to see if they can strike a deal with Republicans on background checks. While any bipartisan deal would likely fall short of what Democrats want, it would still mark a rare Congressional response to mass shootings. But skepticism remains that everything will be done.

In response to the shooting in Indianapolis, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, DN.Y., again pledged to vote on gun legislation “to combat this epidemic in America.”

It is not known whether he will put bills passed by the House or other laws on the ground.

Barden, whose 7-year-old son Daniel was among 20 children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, said the frequency of mass shootings in the United States had become “devastating and horrible”. and Congress’ reluctance to pass meaningful legislation is “frustrating.” Yet, he said, the gun control movement remains energized.

Some activists say they have no choice but to be optimistic after facing years of inertia in Washington.

Markham said recent mass shootings have strengthened the resolve of those pushing for gun control, as lawmakers on both sides of the aisle come under increasing pressure to act. Democrats who campaigned to fight gun violence are now in the driver’s seat, and some moderate Republicans who have seen their neighborhoods ravaged by mass shootings have expressed openness to certain gun restrictions.

“Is this moment any different? It has to be,” Markham said. “This is what fuels so many victims, survivors and those affected by gun violence. … It’s going to be different, because it has to be. We just can’t keep doing the same thing over and over again. “

Gabrielle Giffords, who left Congress in 2012 with brain injury from a mass shooting that killed six people in 2011, told the Washington Post’s Power Up newsletter that she was optimistic that the Republican blockade of long standing against gun control bills.

“It is clear that the tone of many Republicans has changed,” she said. “They realize that inaction is no longer sustainable.”

Still, she acknowledged that the change in tone doesn’t necessarily mean a change in voting patterns will follow, especially with groups like the National Rifle Association urging Republicans to reject any restrictions on the Second Amendment.

But the NRA is in a weakened state as it handles bankruptcy proceedings following internal disputes and tensions over the organization’s financial management. Some proponents of tighter gun control argue this should only further galvanize Washington’s calls to action. The NRA did not respond to a request for comment.

There is no general agreement among gun control activists on how to accommodate Republican demands in the process of negotiating background check legislation. Getting 10 Republican votes may force Democrats to dramatically narrow the scope of their favorite legislation.

But some urged them to take a tougher line, pointing to Giffords’ husband Senator Mark Kelly, D-Arizona, as proof that the politics of the issue are on their side. Kelly was elected in 2020 to a Senate seat long held by Republicans after supporting tougher gun laws.

Republicans in Congress have been largely reluctant to pass new restrictions on gun rights, and former President Donald Trump has often cited a strong Second Amendment defense as a litmus test for distributing support.

Biden has yet to use his political capital in the same way, instead urging patience as he pursues legislation related to the pandemic and the economy. He described it as “a matter of timing,” saying last month he would push Congress to focus on gun issues after focusing on other priorities.

But the series of mass shootings during his first months in office has already started to strain his hand.

Earlier this month, following shootings that killed eight people in Georgia and 10 in Colorado, Biden took a series of executive measures to respond to what he called the “international embarrassment” of violence army. The measures, including new rules on so-called homemade “ghost weapons” without serial numbers, have been welcomed by gun control groups.

But after a campaign in which he proposed some of the most ambitious gun control measures of any presidential candidate, Biden now faces pressure from activists calling him to continue with more measures. daring.

“After the Atlanta and Boulder shootings, there was a real feeling in the movement that in some ways it was missing an opportunity to really lead, and to lead as he had promised,” said Igor Volsky, executive director of Firearms America.

Volsky was among several leaders of the movement who urged Biden to prioritize gun violence prevention during his joint speech to Congress on April 28. Some of the different groups have formed a coalition, dubbed Time is Now, to push for more urgency in Washington.

“The president has shown us what it looks like when he prioritizes an issue and wants to get it across the finish line,” Volsky said, highlighting Biden’s whole-of-government pressure on pandemic response efforts. “What we’re saying is he needs to show the same kind of leadership on this issue. That’s what’s missing.”

At a press conference on Friday, Biden dismissed the idea that he was not spending enough political capital to fight gun violence.

“I never made it a priority,” he said. “No one has worked harder than me to deal with the violence used by individuals using guns.”

He urged the Senate to introduce and vote on the background check bills passed by the House and said he continued to support a ban on assault weapons and firearms containing more than 10 bullets.

“I’m not going to give up until it’s done,” he said.

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Emily Wax-Thibodeaux, Brittany Shammas, and Jacqueline Alemany of the Washington Post contributed to this report.



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