On the Defensive

Sensing disaster, a Littleton-addled G.O.P. tries to fix its fumble on gun control

In the post-Littleton debate about guns in America, Republicans learned last week that self-inflicted wounds are often the most painful. Which is why, hours after the Senate voted last Wednesday to make background checks on buyers at gun shows voluntary, some G.O.P. Senators sensed a p.r. disaster. A majority of Americans, including Republicans, favor tougher gun-control laws. On Thursday half a dozen Senators handed majority leader Trent Lott and the National Rifle Association's Senate point man, Larry Craig of Idaho, an amendment requiring gun-show checks. "It was a fait accompli," said a source familiar with the meeting.

The measure passed, but...

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