NRA Is Under Fire, But Don't Count It Out

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WASHINGTON: A week after the Columbine High School massacre, President Clinton's announcement Tuesday of "the most comprehensive gun legislation any administration has put forward in 30 years" couldn't have been timed better. The proposals -- ranging from extending background checks and raising age limits to holding negligent parents liable when their children commit crimes with guns -- would seem to make sure casualties of the National Rifle Association and its allies.

But TIME correspondent John Dickerson thinks that with Republicans in control of Congress, good timing may not be enough. The under-fire National Rifle Association may choose to make a few concessions in the name of public relations, but they can still count on allies on the Hill to keep outrage over Littleton from opening the floodgates. Even top Senate Democrat Tom Daschle (hailing from gun-laden South Dakota) is cool on new legislation. "Republicans, especially, will try to turn the blame away from guns and onto popular culture," says Dickerson. "That's a traditional conservative argument, and they'll probably be able to use that to keep any major gun-control bills from passing." Watch out for conflicts of interest: "The Omega Man," starring NRA pitchman Charlton Heston, was a pretty violent movie.