Obama Goes on the Road to Push for Gun Legislation

BY Terence Burlij and Katelyn Polantz  February 4, 2013 at 9:25 AM EDT

The Morning Line

For the first time since unveiling his sweeping plan to reduce gun violence last month, President Obama will hit the road Monday in support of his proposal, looking to build up public opinion behind the measure as a way of bolstering its prospects on Capitol Hill.

Mr. Obama will visit the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center, where he will discuss his framework with local leaders and law enforcement officials.

Ahead of the trip, the White House released a photo of Mr. Obama skeet shooting at Camp David last summer, an attempt to answer critics skeptical of Mr. Obama’s claim in a recent interview that he participates in the sport “all the time.”

The public sale of Mr. Obama’s plan comes two weeks after he laid out a series of steps for Congress to curb gun violence, which include renewing the assault weapons ban, limiting the number of rounds in a magazine and requiring universal background checks on all gun sales.

A Gallup poll released last month found that a majority of Americans support each of the nine key proposals in Mr. Obama’s plan, but the response from lawmakers has been mixed, and the gun rights lobby has outright rejected the effort.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., a supporter of gun rights, told ABC on Sunday that Congress must act to address the issue, but he would not commit to backing another ban on assault weapons.

“I didn’t vote for the assault weapons last time because it didn’t make sense, but I’ll take a look at it,” said Reid. “I think that we need to take a look at federal trafficking. I think that everyone acknowledges we should do something with background checks.”

When pressed on whether background checks should be universal, Reid responded, “Yeah, we need to increase that. I’m still a supporter of the Second Amendment, but you can do things like that.”

But the executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, Wayne LaPierre, who once advocated for universal background checks, told Fox News on Sunday that he no longer believes they would solve the problem.

“It’s a fraud to call it universal. It’s never going to be universal. The criminals are not going to comply with it. They could care less,” LaPierre said. “The real title ought to be the check on law abiding people all over this country.”

LaPierre suggested the effort was part of the administration’s attempt to implement even more restrictive gun measures. “I think what they’ll do is they’ll turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry of law-abiding people — and law-abiding people don’t want that,” LaPierre contended.

Chris Wallace, the host of “Fox News Sunday,” pressed LaPierre on the NRA’s reference to the security provided to Mr. Obama’s children in the group’s recent ad campaign:

WALLACE: Do you really think the president’s children are the same kind of target as every school child in America? That’s ridiculous and you know it, sir.

LAPIERRE: You know, unfortunately, I think there are parents all over the school that think — all over the country that think their kids are entitled to the same amount of protection when they go to school, and they want –

WALLACE: So, they should have Secret Service?

LAPIERRE: No, but what they should have is police officers or certified armed security in those schools to keep people safe.

Wallace also asked LaPierre if it was hypocritical for him to have security when the group’s ad attacks Mr. Obama as an “elitist hypocrite” for not allowing all schoolchildren to have the same protection as his daughters.

“I don’t deny anybody the right to security when they need it,” LaPierre said. “What I’m saying, it is ridiculous, Chris, for all the elites and all the powerful and privilege, the titans of industry, to send their kids to school where there’s armed security.”

Reid indicated that the views of the NRA would be heard in the debate, but that lawmakers would ultimately decide the best course of action. “Just because they resist it doesn’t mean we can’t do things. I mean, we have a lot of special interest groups that come and complain about things, and we don’t listen to them. We’ll listen to them and make the right decision,” Reid said.

Another major voice in the debate, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, the gun-control group back by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, attacked the NRA in an ad that aired in the Washington, D.C., area during the Super Bowl.

As the push for legislation moves ahead, the voices on both sides of the debate will only grow louder in the hopes of getting both the attention of the American people and Congress.

LINE ITEMS

  • The Los Angeles Times reports that the Obama administration is working behind the scenes this week to advance immigration reform.

  • Scott Brown is not running in the special election for the Massachusetts Senate seat. “I was not at all certain that a third Senate campaign in less than four years, and the prospect of returning to a Congress even more partisan than the one I left, was really the best way for me to continue in public service at this time,” the former Republican senator said in a statement.

  • The Boston Herald’s Hilary Chabot reports that Tagg Romney, the eldest son of 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney, is considering a run in the special election to fill the Senate seat vacated by Secretary of State John Kerry.

  • New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo is making plans to purchase property wrecked by Hurricane Sandy and turn the spaces into permanently undeveloped coastline, the New York Times reports.

  • Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced Friday that he intends to resign once a successor is confirmed, leaving Mr. Obama with yet another high-level environmental post to fill. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have also said they plan to step down.

  • Will Republicans launch the first-ever filibuster of a Cabinet nominee to prevent Chuck Hagel’s confirmation as defense secretary?

  • Sen. Mike Johanns, R-Neb., told the Lincoln Journal Star’s Don Walton that he would vote to confirm Hagel for secretary of defense. Johanns said Hagel had reassured him in a private hour-long meeting that “he will stand side by side with our allies, be firm with our enemies and use good judgment.”

  • Failed Republican Senate candidates Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock have inspired a Karl Rove-backed group, the Conservative Victory Party, which will work on finding stronger candidates for Republican seats than the tea party favorites that have won nominations and lost in recent elections. The New York Times Jeff Zeleny reports the story from Iowa.

  • Nebraska’s GOP Lt. Gov. Rick Sheehy resigned after the Omaha World-Herald uncovered thousands of phone calls he made to four women other than his wife. Here’s the story from that paper.

  • New Jersey state Sen. Barbara Buono formally kicked off her campaign for governor on Saturday at New Brunswick High School. Buono became the Democratic Party’s likely nominee after several other potential candidates, including Newark Mayor Cory Booker, decided against challenging Republican Gov. Chris Christie. A survey released last month by Quinnipiac University showed Christie with a 41-point lead over Buono in a hypothetical matchup.

  • Former first dog Barney Bush has died at the age of 12. In a statement, former President George W. Bush and first lady Laura Bush wrote, “He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend.” And for a trip down memory lane, all of Barney’s videos can be seen here.

  • Monday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA highlights the programs that are exempt from the looming sequestration spending cuts.

NEWSHOUR ROUNDUP

  • Analysts Mark Shields and David Brooks discuss what they call the “terrible” performance from Chuck Hagel in Congress last week, among other things.

Watch their segment with correspondent Judy Woodruff here or below:


And as always, we present Friday’s Doubleheader.

  • The NewsHour hosts a look back at Hillary Clinton’s time as secretary of state with Trudy Rubin of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Susan Glasser of Foreign Policy magazine. Watch [here] or below:


  • Ray Suarez pays tribute to late New York City mayor Ed Koch.

  • Desk assistant Sarah McHaney examines the moral push from evangelical Christians on immigration reform.

  • NewsHour production assistant Alex Bruns writes a refresher of all the news from Capitol Hill last week. Read it here.

TOP TWEETS

Christina Bellantoni contributed to this report.

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Questions or comments? Email Christina Bellantoni at cbellantoni-at-newshour-dot-org.

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