Gun reformers swarm the Hill to mark Newtown anniversary

Gun control advocates swarmed Capitol Hill this week just ahead of the one-year anniversary of the shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

The activists, representing Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, are pressuring lawmakers from both parties to revisit legislation requiring universal background checks prior to all gun purchases.

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The advocates concede that such legislation would likely fail in the current Congress – as it did in the Senate last spring. But they want another high-profile vote on the measure next year as a way to remind the public where lawmakers stand ahead of the 2014 elections.

"This is not the Congress to get much done," Shannon Watts, who founded Moms Demand Action immediately following the Sandy Hook tragedy, said Friday. "[But] just because the background check bill didn't happen this year, suddenly everyone's saying, 'Oh, gun reform is dead. … It can never happen.'"

"But no one's saying that about immigration," she continued. "No one is saying that when a state doesn't pass gay marriage [rights]. It's not like people assume that people who are passionate about immigration or gay marriage are going to go away. But for some reason they always assume that about gun reform [advocates]. We're not going away."

The campaign arrives as Democratic leaders in both chambers are vowing to continue their push for tougher gun laws.

On the eve of the Newtown mass shooting anniversary, a student at a Colorado high school shot at least one other student on Friday, and then shot and killed himself inside the school.

The high school is located only about 10 miles away from Columbine High School, where more than a dozen people were shot and killed in a shooting in 1999. It's also not far from the movie theater in Aurora, Colo., where a dozen people were shot and killed, and nearly 60 were injured, during a mass shooting in July 2012.

Remembering the Newtown tragedy, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Friday called it "shameful" that the Senate would reject the expansion of background checks and other efforts he said would protect kids, like those killed at Sandy Hook.

"I promised the families of Newtown a meaningful conversation about how to change America’s culture of violence," he said from the chamber floor. "I want everyone within the sound of my voice to know that the conversation is not over."

But having a conversation is different than staging a vote. And meeting with Watts's group a day earlier, Reid told the advocates that he hasn't gathered any more support than he had in April, when the background check bill won the backing of only 55 senators – five short of defeating a GOP filibuster.

With that in mind, it's unclear if Reid would expose vulnerable Democrats to a second vote ahead of the midterms.