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News Analysis: U.S. gun control debate could fizzle before reigniting

(Xinhua)

14:26, August 01, 2012

WASHINGTON, July 31 (Xinhua) -- Although discussions of U.S. gun control are slowly gearing up after the Colorado mass shooting, experts say any real and robust debate could fizzle out before it really begins.

James Holmes was arrested after allegedly entering a theater and opening fire on a crowd of moviegoers, killing 12 and wounding 59 others. The gunman supposedly used semi-automatic weapons and more than 6,000 pounds of ammunition he bought online.

While the tragedy has to some extent rekindled the gun control debate, any major discussion of gun control so far remains unlikely, analysts said. The situation mirrors other times in recent years when mass shootings prompted gun control debates that eventually petered out.

"It doesn't look like the Colorado shootings will galvanize the gun control issue," said Darrell M. West, vice president and director of governance studies at the Brookings Institution.

"The National Rifle Association has a solid lock on the gun issue and effectively is preventing any serious discussion of gun violence. Americans don't like to connect our gun policies on assault weapons with violent crime and it doesn't look like that is going to change any time soon," he said.

Indeed, the debate has come and gone more than once over the last decade, and tends to emerge after such incidents as the recent Colorado massacre.

Moreover, the brutal attack has failed to drastically change American attitudes. According to a Pew Research Center poll taken earlier this month, 47 percent of Americans say gun control is a priority, while 46 percent say protecting gun owners' rights is more important.

The poll marked little change from an April study that found 45 percent of Americans thought gun control took priority and that 49 percent favored gun rights.

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