Jim Brady's wife Sarah: This is "a huge moment" for gun control

Sarah Brady and her husband, Jim, who was wounded and disabled during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.
CBS News

(CBS News) Sarah Brady is one of few people who got Congress to act on gun control. She helped win passage of the Brady Law, which requires gun owners to have background checks.

Perhaps no one understands the politics of gun control better than the 28-year advocate. She became chairman of the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence after her husband, Jim Brady, was wounded and disabled during the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan in 1981.

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"This is a very big moment, a huge moment," she said

The huge moment she sees is a political one, with the country still angered about the shootings in Newtown, Conn.

"You can go your whole life and see no one shot, but when something happens like what happened to these children, that wakes up every mom and dad, every brother and sister in the country."

She thinks Newtown had some influence on politics in Washington.

"I think people are more willing to talk about it," she said.

Sarah Brady
Sarah Brady CBS News

That includes strong pro-gun politicians like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who famously carried a gun and shot it in an ad for his 2010 campaign. Manchin told the president after Newtown that he's open to reasonable gun control.

"If Joe Manchin is doing that, then more moderate members for sure are really thinking it over too," Brady said.

When asked what kinds of laws she thinks could pass Congress right now, Brady said: "I think the background check is possible, and I think magazine and assault weapon bans are possible."

Brady does acknowledge that the assault weapons ban didn't prevent the 1999 Columbine school shooting, but said that should be a deciding factor.

"The fact is no law is going to be perfect ... but they do help, if they save any lives they're worth it," she said.

Brady says gun control legislation will still be extremely difficult to pass, even with the memory of Newtown still fresh. Because of the power of the NRA and the strong tradition of gun rights, Brady believes the president and vice president are fighting an uphill battle.

  • Wyatt Andrews

    Wyatt Andrews is a CBS News National Correspondent based in Washington D.C. He is responsible for tracking trends in politics, health care, energy, the environment and foreign affairs.