On Wednesday, at a White House briefing, President Obama pitched his gun control plan to the country, in doing so, he acknowledged the tough road ahead and the partisanship that is likely to stall his efforts to reform the nation’s gun laws.
“This will be difficult,” Obama said in his speech. “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.”
“And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever,” Obama added.
While one can debate the merits of Obama’s remarks about his package of proposals being “common-sense” instead of Constitutionally dubious, what is becoming increasing clear is that getting Congress to ban ‘military-style assault weapons,’ ban high-capacity magazines, end the inaptly named ‘gun show loophole’ (ratify universal background checks for all private sales), and ban armor-piercing bullets will be – to say the least – “difficult.”
Already lawmakers in both chambers of Congress have spoken out against Obama’s recommendations.
“I will fight proposals in the Senate that threaten our Second Amendment rights and fail to take real action to curb a culture of gun violence in America,” Pat Roberts (R-KS) said on Wednesday. “I fully support enforcing the gun laws currently on the books instead of creating new ones that erode basic rights of self-protection.”
“President Obama is targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL).
In the Senate, Obama’s plan would need 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, which given its current makeup – 53 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 45 Republicans – and the fact that a fair majority of senators are longtime supporters of gun rights (including some Democrats) it will be an uphill battle.
With respect to the GOP-controlled House, the package faces an even tougher challenge. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has said via his spokesman Michael Steel that only House committees of jurisdiction will review the plan, implying that the only way that will change is “ if the Senate passes a bill, we will also take a look at that.”
In other words, it seems as though the House doesn’t want to give credence or solemn consideration to the Obama plan until the Senate has voted on it.
Meanwhile, conservative and gun owning-Representatives are rallying against the President.
“The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama’s disdain for the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s limits on his power,” Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-MI) said on Wednesday.
“Congress must stand firm for the entirety of the Constitution – even if, but particularly so, when President Obama seeks to ignore his obligation to ‘preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States,’” Huelskamp continued. “Taking away the rights and abilities of law-abiding citizens to defend themselves is yet another display of the Obama Administration’s consolidation of power.”
“This is the latest attempt by the President to legislate through emotion, but doing so does not lead to quality legislation, added Rep. Steve King (R-IA). “Reducing violence across our nation is a worthy goal, but it is imperative that the Constitutional rights of our citizens are not forgotten in the process.”
At this point, assessing the probability of what will pass and what will get lost in the rigmarole of Congress is difficult. Though, there is a consensus, even amongst Democrats, that pushing through a comprehensive assault weapons ban, like Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s bill, is unlikely.
“We’re not gonna get an outright ban,” New York Rep. Carolyn McCarthy told reporters Tuesday.
“I think we should try for it” continued the staunchly pro-gun control advocate. “… I always believe in trying, and who knows, with the public opinion turning our way, it just might work,” she said, underscoring that ratifying an AWB would be a “heavy lift.”
At the end of the day, and with respect to all the proposals, what passes may come down to which side – the gun community v. the pro-gun control community – does the better job reaching out to their Representatives and Senators in D.C.
It goes with out saying, but if you haven’t hit the phones yet, now is the time to start (along this line, check out Ruger’s ‘Take Action Now’ campaign, an easy way to make your voice heard).