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Public Opinion on Gun Laws Tracks Crime Rates

Is it OK that a student whose professors and fellow students believed was potentially violent can walk into a store and walk out with a semi-automatic handgun after only a few minutes? Is this right really what "The Framers" meant to protect in the 2nd amendment? Should Dems try to do anything about it? Could any gun control law have stopped the massacre in Blacksburg? These and other tough question surrounding the tragedy at Virginia Tech are being addressed on editorial pages all across the nation.

It's not hard to name presidential candidates of both parties who have staged silly photo-ops to portray themselves as The Great American Hunter. And there is no question that most national and statewide Democratic candidates have dodged the issue in recent years or just rolled over for the NRA. Rep. Jane Harman(D-CA) is not one of those politicians, as she makes clear in her post at TPM Cafe, supporting passage of the the Assault Weapons Ban and Law Enforcement Protection Act (HR 1022), which would re-enact the ban that Congress allowed to expire in 2004.

Up until this latest tragedy, public opinion had turned very slightly against gun control. This CNN post features a video link, "Watch how crime rates affect public support for gun laws" which graphically demonstrates a strong relationship between crime rates and public opinion on gun control. It will be interesting to see where public opinion goes from here --- and how Dems respond.