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New Focus In Gun Control Fight

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CBS
The battle over gun control has moved from Capitol Hill to city streets and TV screens, reports CBS News Correspondent Stephanie Lambidakis.

It's a change of strategy by both pro- and anti-gun lobbies: Instead of trying to influence elected officials, they are attempting to sway the voters who elect them.

As Handgun Control Inc.'s Naomi Paiss says, "We think the balance of power in the House and the presidential election will turn in some measure on how candidates voted on the gun issue and what their records were."

Congress' concerted push for more restrictions on guns began with the worst school shooting ever at Columbine High last April, an incident that produced a flurry of new gun control proposals.

The Senate moved quickly, passing one measure to require waiting periods for gun show purchases. But that was one year ago. Now with lawmakers off to the conventions and their own campaigns, gun control seems all but dead.

Whether it's democrats in Congress or the million mom marchers, gun control supporters blame Republicans and the National Rifle Association.

But the fact is some 45 Democrats on the Hill also oppose the legislation, including Congressman Sanford Bishop, who says voters in his rural Georgia district just don't want new restrictions.

"They feel that we have enough laws on the books and that we should enforce the laws that we have on the books effectively, and we should go after the criminals who have guns," Bishop explains.

With little hope of getting new gun laws from this Congress, gun control advocates are taking their battle to the political conventions. Their pro-gun opponents will follow.

Saturday, both sides took to the streets of Philadelphia. Beginning Monday, gun makers will air an ad questioning the Clinton-Gore record.

"We are the makers of America's firearms, responsible companies who helped win America's war," the ad proclaims. "Now we need you."

Gun control advocates will counter with their own criticism of Gov. Bush's record in Texas.

"As governor, he signed the law that allows the carrying of concealed weapons for the first time in 125 years," an anti-gun ad reads.