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Gun Control Advocates Aim To Change Message, Not Position

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They suffered a major defeat in Congress, but those seeking tighter gun laws gathered at Columbia University Monday to say their fight isn't over. NY1's Josh Robin was filed the following report.

Fresh off a stinging loss, gun control advocates are searching for fresh strategies and it may start with changing that very phrase -- gun control.

"We're now using the word gun reform, or gun safety to communicate more accurately what we're seeking to do, which is to keep guns away from criminals and keep them away from those with mental health issues," Richard Aborn of the citizens Crime Commission said.

Earlier this month, a measure aiming to do that failed to get enough votes in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, some of those on the losing side were discussing what went wrong and vowed to try to pass another bill soon.

They gathered at Columbia University for a lecture and discussion named after former Mayor David Dinkins. That the audience was in favor of new laws wasn't in doubt. Those speaking said that's actually the case with most Americans.

"The data is pretty convincing -- 90 percent of Americans actually believe that we ought to fix the background check system,' senior advisor to Mayor Michael Bloomberg John Feinblatt said.

But even those overwhelming numbers may not be enough to persuade many Republicans. Experts say they're more concerned about primary challenges from fellow Republicans who are more conservative.

Overcoming that obstacle may require more campaign contributions from Bloomberg, who says he will back candidates who tighten gun laws.

More pressure from ordinary citizens may also be needed.

"Americans are still indifferent," said Rep. Charles Rangel. "Most of us incumbents, we know where the votes are coming from."

Not surprisingly, the National Rifle Association sees those blocking new bills as more in line with mainstream America.

"You need to be very careful in this country," said former NRA lobbyist Scott Armstrong. "We are willfully giving up a lot of liberties and a lot of freedoms that we have enjoyed for a couple of centuries now in the attempt to gain security."

Those wanting new gun laws say history is actually behind them.

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