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Tragedy might not change debate on gun-law reform

| Tuesday, Sept. 17, 2013, 9:39 p.m.

WASHINGTON — A leading advocate of stricter gun safety laws argued earlier this month that momentum had not stalled in Congress and cited one “inevitable fact” as proof.

“There will be another mass shooting. And when it happens, members of Congress will have a lot of explaining to do,” said Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns.

That shooting occurred on Monday, claiming 12 lives at a secure facility about a mile and a half from the Capitol. And yet, sponsors of gun legislation doubt whether the Navy Yard shooting would change the stubborn political reality that led to the defeat of a bipartisan proposal in April.

“It is unclear if yesterday's tragedy changes the atmosphere sufficiently to yield a different outcome,” said Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Lehigh County, who drafted an amendment to expand checks with Sen. Joe Manchin III, D-W.Va., that failed to muster 60 votes to be adopted.

“The Senate spoke on this issue,” he said, “and we came up five votes short.”

Manchin said it would be “ridiculous” to revive the plan “if there's not enough support.”

The shooter, Aaron Alexis, entered the Washington Navy Yard with a shotgun he purchased a day earlier at a Virginia gun store, along with two boxes of ammunition.

It was not clear whether the Manchin-Toomey proposal would have prevented him from obtaining it, which is one reason lawmakers expressed skepticism that the incident would revive the legislation in Congress.

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