By William Selway
BALTIMORE — Democratic governors and lawmakers in at least 10 U.S. states are seeking new restrictions on guns and ammunition after last month's school shooting in Connecticut, challenging the firearms lobby's political clout.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, last week called for making his state's gun laws the toughest in the nation with restrictions that include a ban on sales of high- capacity ammunition magazines. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, D, wants background checks on private gun sales.
The proposals mark a shift from previous years, when debate focused on expanding residents' right to carry guns, including at colleges or in public buildings. The Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., which killed 20 children and 6 adults, is fueling calls for action.
"The main thrust has been on expanding gun rights, not a retraction," said Richard Feldman, president of the Independent Firearm Owners Association, a Rindge, N.H.-based group that opposes restrictions on gun owners. "This is the most intense discussion of the gun issue in my lifetime."
Vice President Joe Biden said last week there's a growing agreement on the need for background checks on all types of gun sales and a ban on high-capacity magazines. Biden said he plans to deliver by tomorrow recommendations for legislative and executive actions to stop gun violence as part of the administration's response to the Connecticut shooting.
The National Rifle Association, the nation's largest gun- rights group with 4 million members, said last week the Obama administration is moving to "attack the Second Amendment," which protects the rights of Americans to bear arms. The Fairfax, Va.-based group's opposition poses an obstacle in the House, which is controlled by Republicans, who more often side with gun-rights advocates than Democrats.