The 25 Biggest Progressive Victories in 2012
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25. Muzzling the NRA. In 2011 (the most recent year for these figures) there were 15,953 murders in the United States and 11,101 (30 a day) were caused by firearms. Suicides and unintentional shootings account for another 20,000 deaths by guns each year. Many more people are injured - some seriously and permanently - by gun violence, disproportionately poor African Americans living in inner cities. At least seven mass killings occurred in 2012 - six died at an Oak Creek, Wis., Sikh temple when a white supremacist went on a rampage in August; four were killed in an Atlanta day spa in February; five were killed at a Seattle coffee shop in May; six died at a Minneapolis sign company in September; seven were gunned down at an Oakland religious college in April; and 12 were killed and 58 wounded in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater in July. But it may have required a mass shooting in a small suburban town in Connecticut - which killed 20 children and six adults - to make the epidemic of gun violence a national priority. The number of American households that own guns has actually declined in recent decades, from almost 50 percent in 1973 to just over 32 percent 2010. Less than five percent of gun owners are NRA members - probably concentrated among the 20 percent of gun owners who possess about 65 percent of the nation's guns. And polls show that even before the Sandy Hook elementary school massacre - even most NRA members - wanted stronger gun controls, including background checks on gun buyers and restrictions on the sale of military-style assault weapons. After the Connecticut killings, public opinion was even more favorable toward tough gun laws. The tragedy galvanized a broad coalition of faith groups, unions, community organizations, medical professionals, law enforcement officials and big-city mayors. They quickly brought people together for prayer vigils and rallies. But soon they will have to put pressure on Congress and shine a spotlight on the gun manufacturers, their Wall Street investors and gun retailers like Walmart ( which sells 13 percent of all Bushmaster assault rifles) that profit from the proliferation of deadly assault weapons. Senator Diane Feinstein pledged to file strong legislation in 2013 and hold hearings that could provide a dramatic forum for advocates of tougher gun laws - including the survivors of gun violence, the families of victims, and gun owners who believe in sensible reforms - to tell their stories. The growing outrage against senseless gun deaths may finally translate into a sustained movement that can do battle with the NRA.