The National Rifle Association may have been on the ropes in recent months, but after its muscle-flexing last week no one should count out the nation's most powerful lobbying group.
Nonetheless, winning a round here and there doesn't necessarily mean victory. Americans deeply concerned about the non-ending carnage caused by gun violence can take some solace in knowing that there are still leaders committed to strengthening gun laws.
True, Gov. Andrew Cuomo did an about face last week and now supports gun dealers being able to continue selling magazines that hold up to 10 bullets instead of seven as required by the new SAFE NY law. But he didn't cave. Rather, his was more of a practical response to the reality that seven-round magazines aren't being manufactured. State law will still prohibit gun owners from placing more than seven bullets in 10-round magazines.
As for caving, it was evident in Washington where Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat and card-carrying NRA member, pulled from the main proposal advancing in the Senate a ban on assault weapons. While some Democrats, who remember that an assault rifle was used in the killings of 20 first-graders and six staffers at a Connecticut school just three months ago, will try to revive the ban on the Senate floor, their efforts aren't expected to succeed.
Fortunately responsible leaders such as Vice President Joe Biden, who led the fight for the now expired federal ban on assault weapons enacted in 1994, continue to push hard for comprehensive federal gun control. While New York still has the toughest gun laws in the nation, the statutes are porous without a similarly tough national law.
Call Republican Congressmen who seem more sympathetic to the NRA than they are to the parents of children killed in Newtown. Remind them that the Sandy Hook shooter possessed a 30-shot magazine, and that in less than two minutes, he fired 150 bullets. Further, 55 percent of Americans support a ban on assault weapons.
And also tell them to get behind reasonable attempts by lawmakers such as Sen. Chuck Schumer to subject private gun sales to background check requirements. Polls show up to 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks.
A strong federal gun law is no cure-all. But it's the best way to at least start to finally respond to epidemic gun violence.
-- The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle