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535 culprits in D.C.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Wednesday's New York Daily News ran a front page featuring photos of the children killed in Newtown, Conn., with the words: "Shame on us: Assault weapon bill is dead."

But we disagree: The shame is not on "us," the American people.

Don't even blame the NRA.

The culprits behind the death of the assault-weapon ban, authored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, that was part of other measures heading to a Senate vote, are not anonymous Americans, or faceless members of a powerful gun-rights group.

They can be named, and found, in Washington: the 535 officials whom we elected to Congress, who are ignoring the will of the people to institute common-sense reforms to discourage the kind of carnage that happened in December, as well as at sites of mass murders perpetrated with the help of high-capacity killing machines.

Feinstein's measure would have reinstituted a ban on military-style assault weapons — designed only to kill as many people as possible without reloading — that expired in 2004.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said the measure didn't have the votes.

That lack of votes should be the fate of every congressperson and senator who is siding with special interests instead of the fate of the people.

Poll after poll says that the majority of Americans favor such a ban. And one petition for measures that included an assault-weapons ban from the Mayors Against Illegal Guns group generated more than a quarter-million signatures.

Still in play in the coming weeks are stronger background checks (which a recent Pew poll says that 85 percent of people support) and stronger measures for gun trafficking.

If passed, those will represent progress, but it's not enough. Not if we're still enabling killers to work as efficiently as possible.

• The Philadelphia Daily News
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