Republican senators are afraid of a conservative primary challenge fueled by huge amounts of outside money backed by activists and lobbying groups such as the NRA.
I genuinely believe that both parties have good ideas and good people -- and principled voices are arguing for a constructive compromise and a real debate on this issue.
Opponents can't even defend their inaction by arguing they are representing their constituents because of the overwhelming bipartisan margins for the proposed increased background checks and cracking down on gun-trafficking. But hyperpartisan politics are once again threatening to trump policy-driven problem solving. That's why Congress has such a dismal approval rating in the first place.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, parents who lost children in the Newtown massacre will be walking the halls of Congress, trying to appeal to the conscience of our legislators. It will be interesting to see whether their personal appeals will carry as much weight as the influence of gun lobbyists.
This issue isn't academic -- it is an urgent test of our elected representatives' ability to be responsive to the public will and reason together.
If Newtown can't get Washington's attention, what will? The shooting of a colleague, Gabby Giffords, apparently didn't. Conscience and compassion should matter more than cold hard cash.
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