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Gun control positions don't change after violence

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Recent high-profile gun violence has some New York politicians clamoring for stricter controls on the purchase and possession of firearms.

Don't count U.S. Rep. William L. Owens, D-Plattsburgh, or his Republican opponent on Nov. 6, Matthew A. Doheny, among them.

“The fact that we've had a couple of people who clearly have ... mental health issues doesn't really change my position,” said Mr. Owens, a second-term Democrat who has the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

Mr. Doheny, who has received the powerful gun lobby's highest mark possible for a person not in elected office, likewise said that the Colorado and Wisconsin slayings have not changed his mind.

“Gun control does not work, because the people who want to inflict harm, the bad guys, seem to always get the guns,” Mr. Doheny said.

In July, a gunman opened fire at a crowded movie theater in Aurora, Colo., killing 12 and injuring scores of others. James Holmes, a Ph.D. dropout, is accused of the murders. And last week, a man whom authorities believe was a white supremacist killed six at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin.

New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg blasted fellow New York politicians who do not support stricter gun laws, according to an account of his radio show in the New York Daily News.

“The elected officials are so afraid of, not the NRA — they're afraid of not getting elected,” said Mr. Bloomberg, a former Republican and political independent who is not running for re-election, according to the paper. “There's got to be something more important than not getting elected. What about doing what's right?”

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, a Washington-based lobbying organization that pushes for stricter gun-control measures, has launched several public initiatives that highlight the recent shootings. Its website lists a few measures that it believes will reduce gun-related violence.

Mr. Doheny and Mr. Owens said that they oppose them all, including closing the so-called gun-show loophole and banning assault weapons and high-volume ammunition clips. The gun-show loophole, gun-control advocates say, allows purchasers to buy guns without submitting to a background check. The NRA says the loophole doesn't exist. Assault weapons, meanwhile, are already banned in New York.

Both candidates, in fact, support laws that would limit gun control in New York. Handgun reciprocity would require New York to honor concealed-weapons permits from other states, some of which have more lax regulations.

For Mr. Owens, it's a Second Amendment argument.

“I think you have to be very careful in this particular area when you have a constitutionally guaranteed right,” Mr. Owens said. “When you start treading on that, that becomes very, very dangerous in my view. At this point, I've not been persuaded by anything I've seen to change my views.”

But he wouldn't go as far as to say that less gun control means less crime.

“Without seeing some analysis of that assumption, I wouldn't necessarily be prepared to say that,” Mr. Owens said.

Mr. Doheny, though, made a connection between possessing guns and lowering crime.

“We want to make sure that people who are lawful, law-abiding citizens have guns,” Mr. Doheny said.

While he might not have much ammunition against Mr. Owens's solid A rating from the NRA, Mr. Doheny criticized Mr. Owens on gun-control grounds for voting for House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to be speaker of the House.

Mr. Owens said that his vote for Ms. Pelosi was “unrelated and irrelevant” to his position on gun control.

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