Anti-Gun Crusader Fighting Cancer

July 7, 2008 - 8:03 PM

( - "This is one fight I may be losing," said Sarah Brady, the anti-gun crusader, who just announced she has lung cancer and is undergoing radiation treatments.

Her health announcement on Tuesday prompted a round of morning TV show interviews on Wednesday, during which Brady not only talked about her cancer but also touted the gun control law named after her husband.

Jim Brady, a former press secretary for President Ronald Reagan, was gravely injured in the 1981 assassination attempt that also injured Reagan.

In the years following the shooting, Jim and Sarah Brady channeled their anguish into a campaign to restrict easy access to guns. The result of their efforts -- the Brady gun law --was passed by Congress eight years ago, and Sarah Brady said she's getting ready to celebrate that milestone.

Speaking on NBC's Today show Wednesday, Sarah Brady said she's been successful in her gun control fight, but unsuccessful in her efforts to stop smoking. She said she's addicted to cigarettes - is still smoking -- and she's speaking out about her lung cancer in the hopes of preventing young people from starting the cigarette habit.

'More to be done'

During her interview on the Today show, Brady called for additional gun control measures. Although she's thrilled that "we've stopped so many" people from buying guns, she added, "There is more to be done."

She said that includes having background checks done on every gun sold in the United States, not just those sold from dealers. She also called for "a more comprehensive background check."

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, gun sales have increased, especially in states directly affected by terrorism. Pro-gun groups say the increased sale of firearms reflects a new attitude among Americans that they are vulnerable and must take responsibility for protecting themselves.

However, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence recently seized on the terror attacks to criticize "weak federal firearm laws that terrorists exploit to stockpile their deadly weapons."

Even though the Sept. 11 terrorists used boxcutters - not guns - the Brady campaign said previous (unnamed) terrorist schemes included criminals who purchased firearms at U.S. guns shows and through other unregulated sales.

"With a small changes in federal law, we could make it harder for terrorists to get firearms," said Michael Barnes, president of the Brady campaign, in an October press release.

Senator advances Brady Campaign's agenda

A report in the Nov. 28 USA Today says Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is taking up the Brady Campaign's argument about terrorists taking advantage of U.S. gun shows.

McCain reportedly plans to force Senate consideration of a gun control bill that would require background checks on people wishing to buy weapons at gun shows.

McCain told USA Today, "Clearly, alleged members of terrorist organizations have been able to secure guns and weapons using the gun show loophole." He said that fact "lends some urgency" to tightening the law.

McCain and Sen. Mike DeWine (R-Oh.) reportedly have told Republican colleagues they will attach their "background-checks-at-gun-shows" legislation onto the first appropriations bill that comes their way after the Senate convenes in January.

In a letter to fellow Republicans, McCain and DeWine offer evidence - names and states - where suspected foreign terrorists are buying weapons at gun shows.

See Earlier Stories:
Gun Control Group Changes Name, Keeps Agenda (15 June 2001)
McCain, Lieberman Want Background Checks on Private Gun Sales (15 May 2001)