WASHINGTON - Wednesday is the 30th anniversary of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan. Gun-control advocates, including Reagan's wounded press secretary, James Brady, will use the day to launch a renewed push for curbs on guns.
Once again, chances are they won't get very far.
The public remains sharply divided over gun rights vs. gun control. President Obama, though he urged gun-control action in an essay March 13 in the Arizona Daily Star newspaper, hasn't made a strong push. Congress is likely to remain preoccupied with budget battles, with lawmakers unlikely to tackle the divisive issue of guns.
"People are sensitive to the issue of gun violence because of the Giffords shooting ... but the gun issue is down on Congress' list of priorities, given high unemployment and two and a half wars," said Darrell West of the Brookings Institution, a center-left Washington policy-research center.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., is recovering at a Houston rehabilitation center after being shot in the head Jan. 8 outside a Tucson supermarket. Six other people were killed by the gunman.
"She's the most prominent victim since Reagan," noted Paul Helmke, the president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.
The Tucson incident -- combined with the Reagan anniversary -- gives gun-control advocates a fresh platform.
Brady and his wife, Sarah, plan to visit the White House on Tuesday and Capitol Hill on Wednesday to lobby for tighter curbs on firearms.
"I think prospects are better than you're probably hearing," Sarah Brady said Monday. However, she conceded that lawmakers' "thoughts right now are often elsewhere."
That's nothing new. Other than the 1993 Brady bill, which requires background checks for gun purchasers from federally licensed gun dealers, "not much has been done in the last 30 years," Helmke said.
The Brady camp is backing two bills in Congress. One would ban high-capacity ammunition magazines, and the other would make it easier to identify potential gun purchasers with histories of mental illness, drug abuse or domestic violence.