Littleton Gunfire Echoes on Capitol Hill

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WASHINGTON: Lined up in front of the microphones like the 13 crosses outside Columbine High, Senate Democrats on Thursday put forward their prescription for violence in America: more gun-control laws. The proposals sound a lot like those put forward by President Clinton: more three-day waiting periods, less gun-sale loopholes, more restrictions on juvenile gun ownership, and criminalizing parents whose kids get trigger-happy with Dad's .22. "These proposals have been around for a while," says TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson. "But the Democratic advocates are hoping that after Littleton, now is the time to finally get some of them passed."

Republicans, says Dickerson, are likely to answer with a cultural debate -- if we didn't have such mixed-up kids, they wouldn't be looking so hard for guns in the first place -- and the small-government line that the answer isn't more laws but better enforcement of the ones we have. (The long guns used by Harris and Klebold were legal and still would be; the TEC-9 was purchased illegally anyway.) Debate on the measures could begin next week; expect to hear plenty about those 13 crosses (and a smattering about Doom and Marilyn Manson). It's likely to play out much as Littleton has: without much of a resolution. "The Republicans are sensitive enough to let some of the small stuff go through," says Dickerson. "But the floodgates aren't likely to be opened."