President Obama will lead another anti-gun public relations push this week, but it is far from certain the campaign will produce any votes in the Senate.
Today, Obama will return to Connecticut for the first time since he first addressed Sandy Hook Elementary School parents last December. Surrounded by the families of Sandy Hook victims, Obama will again urge Congress to pass a new round of anti-gun legislation. “If we’re really going to tackle this problem seriously, then we’ve got to get Congress to take the next step,” Obama said in Denver last week. “And as soon as next week, they will be voting. As soon as next week, every senator will get to vote on whether or not we should require background checks for anyone who wants to purchase a gun.”
Obama’s prediction of votes this week is looking more and more overly optimistic.
Democrats have a bill ready to go that would ban so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines as well as extend federal government monitoring of gun transactions. But both the assault weapon and high-capacity magazine portions of the bill are expected to fail, and Democrats can’t decide which government monitoring system would both please anti-gun activists and win the most votes.
Anti-gun activists prefer Sen. Chuck Schumer’s, D- N.Y., language that would require permanent records of all gun transfers that could be readily searched by the federal government. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.V., is reportedly working with Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., on a different plan that would require records for all commercial sales but exempt some private transactions.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had hoped to bring up Obama’s gun control bill this week, but now that may be delayed as Democrats wait and see if Toomey, and possibly some other moderate Republicans, can be lured into backing Manchin’s bill. With 13 Republicans already promising to filibuster any anti-gun legislation, Reid wants to make sure he has 60 votes on something before he brings anything to the Senate floor for a vote. He does not want to force red state Democrats up for reelection in 2014, like Sens. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., and Kay Hagan, D-N.C., to vote on any tough amendments unless he knows victory is guaranteed.
Vice President Joe Biden will follow Obama’s Connecticut speech with an anti-gun event at the White House Tuesday. And First Lady Michelle Obama speak out against guns on Wednesday from Chicago. By that time we should know whether Reid has found the votes for Obama’s gun control bill.
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