WASHINGTON -- A lobbyist for the Wisconsin chapter of the National Rifle Association said the "Connecticut effect" needed to pass in order for his group to press its 2013 lobbying agenda, and he predicted that nationwide calls for stricter gun control following the shooting of 20 children and six adults in Newtown, Conn., would soon subside.
Speaking at a Wisconsin state NRA meeting over the weekend, lobbyist Bob Welch said, "We have a strong agenda coming up for next year, but of course a lot of that’s going to be delayed as the 'Connecticut effect' has to go through the process." Welch's comments were first reported by Think Progress. The shooting in Sandy Hook Elementary School galvanized public support for stricter gun control laws, and President Barack Obama has since made the issue a key part of his second-term agenda.
In Washington, NRA lobbyists waited a month following the Newtown tragedy before returning to Capitol Hill in force to pressure Congress to reject any new proposals for gun control. But the shooting appears to have caused some traditionally pro-gun senators, such as West Virginia's Joe Manchin (D), to endorse broader background checks on firearms purchases. A recent poll found that more than 90% of voters support universal background checks for guns.
During his remarks in Wisconsin, Welch boasted of the NRA's power, saying that the people and groups seeking to strengthen gun control measures "realize they can't do a thing unless they talk to us."
Welch relayed a story of his interaction with a lawmaker following the Newtown tragedy. "After Connecticut, I had one of the leading Democrats in the legislature -- he was with us most of the time, not all the time -- he came to me and said, 'Bob, I got all these people in my caucus that really want to ban guns and do all this bad stuff, we gotta give them something. How about we close this gun show loophole? Wouldn’t that be good?' And I said, 'No, we’re not going to do that.' And so far, nothing’s happened on that."
Welch and the NRA are banking on the fact that public support for stricter gun control typically rises in the U.S. in the wake of a mass shooting, only to fall again as other issues rise to the top of the news and people's memories fade. Following the 1999 mass shooting at Columbine High School, both the House and Senate introduced gun-control proposals, but Congressional wrangling ultimately defeated the chance for any broad legislation.