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.
In Pictures American Gun Culture
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
After initial expressions of outrage, lawmakers and the White House are getting down to counting votes on what can actually be achieved on Capitol Hill, where limits on gun rights have been taboo for more than a decade.
On Sunday, top gun lobbyists predicted that there’s not enough support in Congress for a new ban on assault weapons and that even curbs on high-capacity magazine clips were in doubt.
“When a president takes all the power of his office, if he’s willing to expend political capital, you don’t want to make predictions,” said David Keene, president of the National Rifle Association (NRA), on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“But I would say that the likelihood is that they’re not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through the Congress,” he added.
Since the Sandy Hook shootings, gun sales and requests for background checks have spiked, in anticipation of new curbs on guns. The NRA reports that it has gained 100,000 new members since the Dec. 14 shootings and expects to soon top 5 million members.
There's a window for action after incidents like the Sandy Hook shootings, and that window is beginning to close, says Julian Zelizer, a congressional historian at Princeton University in Princeton, N.J. "Memories of the shooting start to fade, the NRA starts to be more comfortable, reformers start to back off, and they are much more timid."
"If Obama wants to do something, he has to make this front and center, because it's getting harder by the day," he adds.
Vice President Joe Biden, who met last week with a wide range of interest groups on gun violence, is expected to deliver recommendations to the president on Tuesday.
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers are proposing measures to renew the assault weapons ban, limit the size of high-capacity magazine clips, require universal background checks, increase mental-health screenings, and pressure Hollywood and the video-game industry to dial back the violence.