On Tuesday, in a closed-door meeting with 16 big city mayors, President Obama affirmed that he has not abandoned his gun control agenda, telling those in attendance that he would continue the fight to reform the nation’s gun laws.
According to a statement released by the White House, the president “vowed to continue doing everything in his power to combat gun violence through executive action and to press Congress to pass common-sense reforms like expanding the background check system and cracking down on gun trafficking.”
In April, the Senate failed to pass several different gun control bills, including a ban on so-called ‘assault weapons,’ a ban on magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and a universal background check bill that would have expanded criminal background checks to firearm purchases and transfers made over the Internet and at gun shows.
The background check bill, which was sponsored by Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV), was the centerpiece of Obama’s plan to reduce gun violence in the wake of the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut.
Although he promised to continue the fight, Obama also acknowledged that there are limitations to what his administration and the federal government can do to curb gun-related violence.
“The President reiterated that government alone can never fill the void that causes a child to turn to violence, but that we all have a responsibility to do our part to create safe communities and save lives,” the White House statement read.
Those Mayors who attended the meeting include:
- Mayor Greg Ballard (Indianapolis, IN)
- Mayor Tom Barrett (Milwaukee, WI)
- Mayor Cory Booker (Newark, NJ)
- Mayor Vincent Gray (Washington, DC)
- Mayor Sly James (Kansas City, MO)
- Mayor Kevin Johnson (Sacramento, CA)
- Mayor Mitch Landrieu (New Orleans, LA)
- Mayor Mark Mallory (Cincinnati, OH)
- Mayor Michael Nutter (Philadelphia, PA)
- Mayor Annise Parker (Houston, TX)
- Mayor Jean Quan (Oakland, CA)
- Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore, MD)
- Mayor Kasim Reed (Atlanta, GA)
- Mayor RT Rybak (Minneapolis, MN)
- Mayor Francis Slay (St. Louis, MO)
- Mayor Dayne Walling (Flint, MI)
- Mayor Molly Ward (Hampton, VA)
- Mayor AC Wharton (Memphis, TN)
As noted in previous Guns.com articles, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has stated that the Senate will vote on a bill to expand background checks sometime before the 2014 midterm elections — however, to the chagrin of some gun control advocates, that vote would not happen this year.
“I think sometime next year we’ll revisit that issue,” Reid said earlier this month to members of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a grassroots organization 100,000 members strong that pushes for tougher state and federal gun laws. “I’m almost certain of it.”
Still, whether another vote happens this year or next year, those lawmakers in favor of expanding background checks need to close a gap of six votes in the Senate. The Manchin-Toomey amendment garnered 54 votes, six shy of the 60-vote threshold required to overcome a Republican-led filibuster.
Based on the White House statement, the notion that he has to “press Congress,” it’s plainly evident that Obama is aware that he needs to use the bully pulpit to shore up votes for expanded background checks. In the coming months, we’ll have to watch and see how certain key lawmakers who voted against the Manchin-Toomey amendment, e.g., Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), respond to his sales pitch.