Clinton Tries to Keep Littleton Echoing in D.C.

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"For the past three months, the gun lobby has called the shots on Capitol Hill. Now itís time for Congress to listen to the lobbyists who truly matter, our children." With those words, President Clinton on Thursday welcomed 80 students from Colorado to the White House, including some from Columbine High School, in order to keep the pressure on Congress to pass meaningful gun control legislation. "The President is trying to keep the political price high for Republicans," says TIME congressional correspondent John Dickerson. He doesnít want the country to forget the GOPís role in shooting down the most recent gun control legislation and, says TIME White House correspondent Jay Branegan, "he wants to remind the country that ĎI hear you.í"

The President believes that the Littleton massacre has dramatically altered the nationís gun control politics. "He believes that the Columbine shootings made gun control resonate with the public and that Republicans and the NRA have badly misread the national mood since the tragedy," says Branegan. However, neither the Senate (which reluctantly adopted new gun control restrictions) nor the House (which failed to pass those measures) has appointed negotiators to begin hammering out whatever compromise can be reached on guns. And though House leaders have indicated that some gun control measures could yet emerge from negotiations between the two chambers, says Dickerson, "they are likely to be the least controversial ones, like safety lock requirements, and not the most contentious, like gun-show-sales restrictions."