Gun control debate heats up after Conn. shooting

SOUTH PHILADELPHIA - December 17, 2012

"This feels different," said gun control activist Shira Goodman. "And I think it's because of the children. I think it's because of the lives lost. I think we're hearing regular people getting engaged on this issue, wanting to do something, wanting to make their voices heard."

For activists like Goodman, the horror of Newtown is a new 'Exhibit A' in their ongoing crusade to put more muscle in America's gun control laws, a time to push harder than ever for tighter regulation of guns in our country, even among gun enthusiasts.

"The NRA, the lobbyists and the officials are different from their membership. And recent surveys of NRA card-carrying members show that about 75 percent of them would favor common-sense solutions like background checks on all guns," said Goodman.

The NRA's website continues to carry familiar themes, but still no mention of the mass murder in Connecticut. Their spokesmen remain silent as well about the mass murder in Newtown.

So, too, multiple local gun shop and shooting range owners from whom we sought comment Monday.

There's too much heat right now, several told me. Most customers refused opportunities to speak out as well.

One told me, "If the teachers at Sandy Hook School had been armed, that tragedy could have been averted."

Two professional security guards, both seeking federal jobs now, did tell me they believe a new round of gun laws would be useless.

"The guy was sick. He was crazy. I don't think giving people more guns or giving people less guns... they're going to do what they're going to do," said Adam Goetz.

"If a person's sick, they're going to find a gun and do what they want to do," said Nick Platnecky of Pennsauken, N.J.

The clash over stricter gun escalates once again. The conflict here over politics and policy is as bitter and passionate as ever. The question recurs: will the sides ever find common ground?

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