With threat of filibuster, does tougher gun control have a future? (+video)
Most Americans favor background checks for all gun sales, which would close a major loophole in current law. But 13 Republican senators say they'll filibuster any additional gun restrictions.
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Meanwhile, a top White House aide acknowledges that some of what President Obama had pushed for in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., school massacre – a ban on military-style assault rifles and high-capacity gun magazines – is unlikely to make it into any legislation at the federal level.Skip to next paragraph
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Speaking on ABC’s “This Week” Sunday, Dan Pfeiffer said the focus now is on “a strong, bipartisan bill that has enforceable background checks.” But he also recognizes the difficulty here because of the threatened Republican filibuster in the Senate.
“If you remember, during the State of the Union, with the families of Newtown in the audience, every member of Congress stood up and applauded when the president called for an up-or-down vote on these measures,” Mr. Pfeiffer said. “Now that the cameras are off and they are not forced to look the Newtown families in the face, now they want to make it harder…. If we have a simple up-or-down vote, we can get this done.”
Were such a measure put to an up-or-down vote among the American public, it likely would pass, according to a new Marist poll out last week.
Sixty percent of those surveyed agreed that laws covering the sale of firearms should be more strict; 59 percent favor a ban on the sale of assault rifles; 87 percent support legislation that would require background checks for private gun sales and sales at gun shows.
Another recent survey – this one by Quinnipiac University – finds voters supporting universal gun background checks by an even greater margin: 91 percent to 8 percent, including 88 percent among Republicans.
But a potentially major problem for gun-control advocates – and political ammunition for the National Rifle Association (NRA) and other opponents – is public concern that background checks could lead to gun confiscation.
By a 48 percent to 38 percent plurality, “American voters say that the government could use the information from universal background checks to confiscate legally owned guns,” notes the Quinnipiac poll. Among Republicans, that concern rises to 61 percent.
As Colorado and Connecticut have shown recently, passing tougher gun laws may more likely happen at the state level. Oregon, which saw a mall shooting last December, is now considering such laws as well.