January 17, 2013

Obama's gun controls face tough odds

Background checks for all gun buyers may pass, but a ban on assault weapons is a long shot. He calls on the public to lobby a reluctant Congress.


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Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Grant Fritz
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President Barack Obama, accompanied by Vice President Joe Biden, left, hugs 8-year-old letter writer Grant Fritz during a Wednesday news conference on proposals to reduce gun violence at the White House.


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Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa said Obama's executive actions amounted to a "power grab" to "poke holes in the Second Amendment."

Obama acknowledged that getting his proposals through Congress "will be difficult," making a veiled reference to powerful lobbying groups such as the National Rifle Association.

"There will be pundits and politicians and special-interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty -- not because that's true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves," Obama predicted. "And behind the scenes, they'll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever."

In its official response, the NRA adopted a more muted tone than it has in recent weeks, saying it would work with Congress "on a bipartisan basis" to develop solutions that secure the nation's schools and fix broken mental health systems. The statement did not specifically address Obama's proposals, which include a $150 million school-safety initiative to help communities hire 1,000 new school resource officers.

But at a huge annual gun show in Las Vegas, the NRA said its opposition to Obama's plans was "the fight of the century."

"I warned you this day was coming, and now it's here," NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre wrote in a fundraising letter circulated at the trade show. "It's not about protecting your children. It's not about stopping crime. It's about banning your guns ... PERIOD!"

Gun-control advocates say their strategy will be to highlight popular support for most of Obama's proposals and rally voters across the country to press their representatives in Congress to act.

"There's an extraordinary disconnect between what the American public wants -- including gun owners and NRA members -- and what our elected officials are doing about it," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "It is going to be up to us, the American public, to close that disconnect."

Obama vowed Wednesday to "put everything I've got into this." In a moving event one month and two days after a gunman killed 20 small children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Obama was flanked by children who wrote him letters in the days after the massacre, pleading with him to do something to curb gun violence.


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Today's poll: Assault weapons

Should Congress ban assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines?



View Results


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