“Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” a male narrator asks in the video. The White House quickly condemned the comments.
Mr. Obama acknowledged the difficulty of taking on such gun rights supporters, who repeatedly have demonstrated their legislative muscle by batting away proposal after proposal. The president even predicted that he would be accused 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,” he said.
Mr. Obama was joined by Vice President Joseph R. Biden, who led the task force that produced the recommendations. Some of them are steps Mr. Obama could have taken at any time, such as requiring federal agencies to share more data with the national instant criminal-background check system, or stepping up prosecutions of gun crimes.
The big-ticket items, however, will require Congress to act. Those include a ban on ammunition magazines that hold more than 10 rounds; renewal of the ban on military-style semiautomatic rifles, known as the assault weapons ban, which expired in 2004; and extending background checks to every firearms purchase, including those between private citizens.
Mr. Obama called on voters to put pressure on Congress.
“Ask them what’s more important — doing whatever it takes to get an ‘A’ grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns, or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?” he said.
Polls show that Americans are increasingly willing to accept laws restricting the availability of firearms in the wake of the Connecticut tragedy, although other polls show that few voters rank gun control as their most important political issue. Gun owners also are preparing by buying firearms at a record pace in the weeks since Mr. Biden began his review.
The issue of gun control joins an already crowded legislative schedule on Capitol Hill, where lawmakers have three looming deficit and spending deadlines and where immigration reform has been deemed the top priority for Senate Democrats.
Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner, Ohio Republican, said committees will review Mr. Obama’s proposal but that they will wait for the Senate to take action on any legislation.
Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey, a former D.C. police chief who attended Mr. Obama’s speech, said he thinks the congressional battle is “winnable.”
“This is it. If the slaughter of 20 babies doesn’t keep our attention, then it’s hopeless,” he said. “If somebody can walk in and shoot 6- and 7-year-olds multiple times with a high-powered weapon and we say, ‘Oh, well nothing should change,’ I don’t know what else to do.”
Mr. Obama does have plenty of allies in his corner who have pledged to work swiftly. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, plans to help roll out an updated bill to ban assault weapons — a previous ban expired in 2004 — and high-capacity clips on Thursday, and praised the president’s proposals.
“He was exactly right when he said [that] ‘weapons designed for the theater of war have no place’ in our society,” she said. “I couldn’t agree more. These weapons have one purpose: to kill the most people in the shortest amount of time possible.”View Entire Story
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
Dave Boyer is a White House correspondent for The Washington Times. A native of Allentown, Pa., Boyer worked for the Philadelphia Inquirer from 2002 to 2011 and also has covered Congress for the Times. He is a graduate of Penn State University. Boyer can be reached at email@example.com.
David Sherfinski covers politics for The Washington Times. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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