A mid-week story in the NY Times after the Tucson massacre, "A Clamor for Gun Limits, but Few Expect Real Changes", was not encouraging about congressional action:
Gun control advocates say they believe the shock of the attack has altered the political atmosphere, in no small part because one of the victims is a member of Congress.
"I really do believe that this time it could be different," said Paul Helmke, executive director of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
Yet gun rights advocates and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle said Thursday that there was little chance the attack would produce significant new legislation or a change in a national culture that has long been accepting of guns.
But at the very least, Congress should be able to confirm Andrew Traver, President Obama's nominee for the head the ATF, which has been without a director since 2006. You can help encourage them by signing a petition from Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG) here.
Here's what it says at the petition site:
America needs a top cop on illegal guns now
The mass shooting in Tuscon, Arizona is yet another deadly reminder of what happens when dangerous people get their hands on guns.
Now more than ever, law enforcement officials need the full support of Congress and the public to crack down on deadly criminals.
But the one agency responsible for cracking down on illegal gun crime has gone without a Director for the last four years.
To keep guns out of the hands of criminals, the Senate must confirm President Obama's nominee for ATF Director, Andrew Traver. As the head of the Chicago ATF office, Traver has proven that he'll fight to keep our families safe.
Each day we wait, 34 Americans will lose their lives to gun violence.
Tell your Senators to stand up to the powerful gun lobby and confirm a top cop on illegal guns for America.
Traver has worked as a special agent with ATF for more than two decades, at various offices across the country, as well as ATF headquarters. He has served as the Special Agent in Charge of the ATF Chicago Field office since 2004. He's a Navy veteran who has been involved in veterans' issues as the Chicago outreach coordinator for The Mission Continues, a veterans' service organization.
The last director, Carl J. Truscott, was appointed in 2004, after which Congress moved to require Senate confirmation for the post. According to a Washington Post story from late October, "ATF's oversight limited in face of gun lobby", this opened the door for typical Senatorial obstructionism:
Next up for the ATF job was Michael J. Sullivan, a former U.S. attorney in Boston nominated by President George W. Bush. He was blocked by three senators who accused the ATF of being hostile to gun dealers: David Vitter (R-La.), Michael D. Crapo (R-Idaho) and Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho). Craig, who has left office, was a member of the NRA's board of directors throughout his tenure in the Senate.
They succeeded in keeping Sullivan in "acting" limbo until he resigned when Barack Obama took office...
In August, sources in the ATF said Andy Traver, a special agent in charge of the ATF in Chicago, was being considered for the job. Gun-lobby representatives immediately said they would oppose his nomination because they thought he was too close to gun-control activists.
Oh heavens! Traver might actually do his job! We can't have that!
Sorry, gun manufacturers, but NO! After the Tucson massacre, speedy approval of a new ATF head is the least we can do.
Sign the petititon.