Gun control has been treated with a mix of silence and discomfort in the presidential campaign, a stance that may become insupportable once the nation finds its voice in the aftermath of the Virginia Tech mass murder.
Democrats have been deliberately muted for months on an issue that, by their own reckoning, contributed to and perhaps sealed their defeat in the 2000 presidential election. That's when Al Gore's call for gun registration cost him votes in rural America and dulled the party's appetite for taking on the gun lobby.
Top Republicans in the race are trying to close ranks with their party's conservative base on a variety of issues, making gun control an unusually sensitive one for them, too, thanks to their liberal views in the past.
Enter the massacre at Blacksburg, Va., an attack so horrific it froze the presidential campaign in place. Candidates called off events and expressed only sorrow, not opinion, in the first hours.
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