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Gun lobby: Congress doesn't have the muscle to pass gun control (+video)

A month after Sandy Hook shootings, lawmakers are scaling back expectations on what can be achieved in Congress on gun control. But Democrats are urging the White House to use executive powers.

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Sen. Joe Manchin (D) of West Virginia electrified the pro-gun control community when he announced that the slaughter of children at Sandy Hook “changed me,” and called on his “friends in the NRA” to be “at the table” on preventing gun violence.

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But his main focus in appearances on Sunday talk shows was to assure gun owners that Congress will not rein in gun rights.

 “I would tell all of my friends in the NRA, I will work extremely hard and I will guarantee you that there will not be an encroachment on your Second Amendment rights,” he said on ABC’s “This Week.”

“An assault weapons stand-alone ban on just guns alone will not go anywhere  in the political reality we are in,” Senator Manchin said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”  It has to be a “comprehensive approach,” he added, including mental health and video violence. The issues is not guns, he said, it’s a “culture of mass violence.”

The assault weapons ban passed mainly with Democratic votes in 1994 contributed to the GOP takeover of the House  (for the first time in 40 years) in November elections that year.  The loss of pro-gun Democratic voters in states like West Virginia also helped sink Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000. It’s been a toxic issue for most Democrats ever since.

Most Republicans still oppose curbs on gun rights. “We obviously have a situation where crazy people, deranged individuals are having access to guns,” said Sen. John McCain (R) of Arizona on  CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday.  But “just taking guns away from people” is not the answer, he added.

Meanwhile, Democrats are proposing administrative measures that the White House can take on its own to rein in gun violence. Senior Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee wrote to Mr. Biden on Jan. 11, urging him to include a recommendation in his report to increase research on gun-related violence. Since 1997, House appropriations laws have included language to bar the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from using funds “to advocate or promote gun control," language that has had a chilling impact on studies of gun violence, they say.

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