Gun-control activists make new push

A string of school shootings in the first weeks of 2014 is prompting renewed calls in Washington for more stringent federal gun controls.

On Friday, 14 months will have passed since an elementary school shooting in Connecticut claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults. The massacre spurred a flurry of new gun bills, though all have faltered.

In the meantime, there have been 44 more school shootings — about half of them fatal, according to a report issued Wednesday by gun-control activists.

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The data, compiled by the groups Moms Demand Action and Mayors Against Illegal Guns, concluded the pace of shootings is quickening. There were 13 shootings in the first six weeks of 2014, according to the report.

“This report should be met with outrage in every corner of this town,” Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) said during a news conference on Capitol Hill. “In the wake of tragedy after tragedy, Congress has done nothing.”

Approval of federal legislation remains elusive in the face of fierce opposition from gun rights advocates and a difficult political landscape. Several supporters of stronger federal gun regulations in Congress recently told The Hill  they saw no path forward for legislation in the foreseeable future.

That includes legislation to expand federal background checks to all commercial gun sales — a proposal that fell a handful of votes short of passage last year in the Senate, despite polling showing broad public support.

Carlee Soto, the younger sister of one of the teachers slain at Sandy Hook Elementary, said proponents of stronger protections were unwilling to give up in light of the continued bloodshed.

“I have felt the terror of Dec. 14 over and over again,” Soto said, referring to the Newtown shooting.

Despite the federal inaction, lawmakers and activists maintain the gun control push has made progress in states that have enacted tougher restrictions on guns.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-N.Y.), a longtime gun control advocate who is preparing to retire from Congress, said the push in Washington is still alive.

“There is movement,” she said. “The conversation is still going on.”