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Steve Scalise shooting reignites gun control debate: Why Donald Trump has Second Amendment advocates overjoyed

A gunman opened fire at a community baseball practice game in Washington on Wednesday, critically wounding top Republican Congressman Steve Scalise and three others, before the police shot him dead. The attack provoked a wave of emotion on Capitol Hill, where Republicans and Democrats expressed concerns over a possible rise in verbal or physical violence, and president Donald Trump appealed for unity.

In addition to this, a man dressed in a UPS uniform opened fire at a package sorting hub in San Francisco, killing three people before turning the gun on himself, police said.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

However, the despite the two incidents, the one issue that hasn't been spoken about is gun control. In a country where there are almost as many guns as people, gun ownership is fiercely defended by firearms industry lobbyists, and Republican politicians, who now control the Senate, the House of Representatives and the White House.

There was also no immediate indication that Trump or his fellow Republicans would shift from their position protecting gun ownership rights. House Republicans who attended a briefing following the shooting were asked by reporters about the need for gun control legislation. "Everyone was focused on the facts of the case, and what might be needed to enhance lawmakers' security," was all Republican representative Barbara Comstock would say.

Scalise was, ironically enough, part of efforts made by House Republicans that opposed federal gun control laws, which he saw as an assault on the Constitution's Second Amendment.

Even today, gun control groups are fighting federal legislation that would relax existing gun laws, especially after Republicans backed by the National Rifle Association (NRA) fared well in last November's elections.

Among the first things they did was roll back curbs imposed by former president Barack Obama's administration, that sought to restrict sale of firearms to people receiving social security checks for mental illnesses or people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs.

As pointed out in a report on NBC News, the rule was hotly contested by gun rights advocates. John Feinblatt, president of the Everytown For Gun Safety group, was quoted as saying he expected more gun control rollbacks. "(It is) just the first item on the gun lobby's wish list," he said, accusing the National Rifle Association of "pushing more guns, for more people, in more places".

The National Rifle Association was a generous supporter of the Trump campaign for presidency, donating $30 million. As mentioned by a Bloomberg report, Trump received an ecstatic reception from the lobbying group at its April convention in Atlanta. "You came through for me," Trump told his audience there, adding, "And I am going to come through for you."

He soon came good on his promise, the report mentioned, when he overturned another regulation imposed by his predecessor, that had stopped hunters from shooting down bears from airplanes on federal land in Alaska.

But Trump's critics have said that apart from the relaxation of these checks, there hasn't been any concerted effort on Trump's part. A report on CNN said that gun right advocates are looking for Trump to help advance legislation making concealed-carry permits valid across state lines, as well as a measure that would loosen requirements for buying gun silencers.

However, Trump's chief accomplishment, in gun advocates' view, was his successful nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, which returned a conservative majority to the panel and opened the door for legal challenges to some restrictive gun laws in states around the country. Already, the NRA has launched legal actions against an assault weapons ban in California in the hope that it would be eventually overturned by the court.

With inputs from Reuters

Updated Date: Jun 15, 2017 12:24 PM

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