(Photo: Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)
President Obama bowed to pressure from gun control activists by introducing on Wednesday several gun control measures that the White House claims will reduce violence crime. But any legislative action may face major roadblocks as Republicans and centrist Democrats say they will block moves that target law-abiding gun owners.
"I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality," said the president, speaking about his full set of recommendations. "If there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try."
Surrounded by gun control activists and school children, the president and Vice President Joe Biden proposed an agenda that would be the most ambitious gun control plan seen in decades and will include both legislative and executive actions.
Obama will be calling on Congress to pass legislation closing the "gun show loophole" and mandating checks on private sales, excluding what they term "common sense" exceptions for cases of transferring ownership within families and temporary transfers for hunting and sporting purposes.
He will also propose to reinstate and strengthen the ban on assault weapons (meaning a gun with at least one military characteristic), similar to the one passed in 1994 and that expired 10 years later. Magazines, or clips that hold ammunition in semi-automatic weapons, will be restricted to 10 rounds.
Also included in the reform package: $4 billion dollars to help keep 15,000 police officers on the street, removing restrictions that require ATF to authorize importation of weapons simply because of their age, appointing a permanent head of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agency, asking the CDC to study the entertainment industry's impact on gun violence, and encouraging mental health professionals to report patients whom they fear may be violent.
Needless to say, legislators on both sides of the aisle, including Democrats in leadership roles, are balking at implementing measures that many claim will tie the hands of law-abiding citizens but do little to curb violent actions by criminals or the mentally ill.
Greg Valliere of the Potomac Research Group, a private firm that tracks Washington for institutional investors, believes gun control has no chance of passing the current Congress.
"Sweeping gun control legislation has no chance – none – of enactment; it won't even be considered by the House, and the Senate is lukewarm," Valliere wrote in his Wednesday newsletter. "Modest proposals, perhaps dealing with mental health and school safety, might have a chance."
Even Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said gun control measures are all but doomed on Capitol Hill. "Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe. Is it something that can pass the House? I doubt it," Reid told a Nevada news program on Monday.
Democrat Sen. Joe Manchin (W.V.), who has an A rating with the NRA, said on Sunday that any stand alone restriction on gun control would likely not pass without addressing "mass violence" in America. However, he did say the recent school shootings have "changed the dialogue" on guns and violence in this country.
"If you're just going to say it's all about guns, and we need gun changes and bans, then you're wrong," said the West Virginia senator.
The nation's largest gun rights organization says any efforts to tighten laws on guns and ammunition will face a team of lobbyists and citizens who will promise to hold legislators accountable if they vote for Obama's proposals.
In a video released this week, the National Rifle Association labeled Obama an "elitist hypocrite" for proposing gun control measures when he and his family are protected by an armed security detail.
"Are the president's kids more important than yours?" the NRA ad's narrator asks. "Then why is he skeptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools? Mr. Obama demands the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes, but he's just another elitist hypocrite when it comes to a fair share of security."