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Aftermath of Arizona shooting: More guns in more hands?

Despite gun control efforts in Congress in the wake of the Arizona shooting, it's unlikely that America will see more gun control laws. In fact, the opposite may happen, at least in Arizona.

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The Arizona Legislature's consideration this week of a proposed campus-carry gun law despite the Tucson tragedy illustrates how attitudes toward guns have changed since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999, which sparked a slew of state anti-gun measures, including in Kentucky and California.

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"What we've seen is a maturing of the American public in its sophistication on the gun issue, and I think we're now seeing a growth toward a more realistic attitude, which is to think about these incidents on a case-by-case basis and whether this shows us anything that could be done better," says Dave Kopel, an adjunct constitutional law professor at Denver University.

More concealed carry permits

In the past 30 years, the number of states that automatically issue concealed-carry permits after a background check have gone from nine to 37, meaning that "Americans have in most places practical social experience with guns, where if you go out in public, out of every 100 people you pass there's probably going to be a few who are lawfully carrying concealed weapons, and they're not maniacs," says Professor Kopel. "That experience accumulates."

For their part, gun-control advocates hope the Arizona shooting will change the pro-gun rights momentum of the past decade, especially seeing as this time a mass shooting touched Congress personally.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D) of New York and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey, are preparing legislation that would ban the kind of high-capacity magazines allegedly used by the accused shooter, Jared Loughner, on Jan. 8. A bill aimed at preventing anyone from carrying a gun within 1,000 feet of a member of Congress, as well as other high-profile government officials, is forthcoming from Rep. Pete King (R) of New York.

And on Wednesday, Rep. Gary Ackerman (D) of New York, offered up legislation to close a loophole that allows gun dealers whose licenses have been revoked to continue to sell firearms without background checks.

Usually "politicians turn a blind eye to this," Paul Helmke, president of the Brady Campaign and the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence, tells The Huffington Post. "They'll talk about anything except guns. My main hope with this shooting is that maybe now we'll finally start to talk about the intolerable level of gun violence in this country."

Limiting specific guns 'off the table'


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