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Obama Set to Announce ‘Comprehensive’ Gun Control Agenda

The 'Get Some Guns & Ammo' shooting range; photo by George Frey/Getty Images

Brett Nielsen fires an AR-15 rifle Tuesday at the Get Some Guns & Ammo shooting range in Salt Lake City. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

The Morning Line

President Obama on Wednesday will lay down his blueprint for a mix of executive and legislative action to curb gun violence, the opening elements of a debate expected to dominate conversation in Washington.

As Mr. Obama also wrestles with congressional Republicans over spending and the deficit, he will push a package of proposals that the White House is calling a “comprehensive” approach to the issue. Many of the pieces have been under consideration for years but never earned a serious look in Congress. He’ll also outline new agenda items, including a national gun trafficking measure that big-city mayors have been calling for and increased funding for mental health services.

The late morning announcement comes after Vice President Biden presented recommendations following a quickly formed task force in the wake of the mass school shooting in Newtown, Conn., last month.

In making the announcement, Mr. Obama is expected to be joined by children who wrote him letters following the Newtown tragedy. (The NewsHour also talked with students about their views.)

Mr. Obama will ask Congress to enact legislation that will make background checks mandatory, prohibit assault weapons and ban magazines that carry more than 10 rounds of ammunition. Any of those measures will be difficult at best to pass through divided chambers — one reason his focus on executive attention is crucial if he wants any of his measures to become reality.

Already, state executives across the country have been taking matters into their own hands, with New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday signing a bill that includes statewide gun registration and puts limits on rounds of ammunition in magazines.

The NewsHour devoted much of Tuesday’s program to exploring the issue, beginning with Judy Woodruff’s look at the proposals taking shape, a report you can watch here or below:

Jeffrey Brown talked with Delaware Democratic Gov. Jack Markell, about his state’s push to enact legislation to reduce gun violence, including stricter background checks, a statewide database of gun owners and an assault weapons ban.

Judy also interviewed NRA President David Keene, who told her he views Mr. Obama’s expected agenda as an attack on the Second Amendment. He argued that what some call “assault rifles” are used by sportsmen for hunting and “to take those guns away from them for no reason is an infringement on their rights.”

He also defended his push to put armed guard in schools. “You can never predict who in a society is going to do what,” Keene said.

Watch that interview here or below.

Politico’s Anna Palmer has more here on the NRA’s stepped-up lobbying efforts.

The NewsHour will livestream Mr. Obama’s announcement at 11:55 a.m. ET.


California Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown sat down for an interview with Spencer Michels to discuss his state’s balanced budget. Brown last week proclaimed its burdensome deficit — one of the most drastic recessionary bills in the entire country at $42 billion under predecessor GOP Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger — had disappeared.

“What I’m saying is that people sometimes think a budget is like a piggy bank, the money is in there,” Brown told Michels. “No, the money comes in every day, and the spending goes out every day. And we are in a position for the first time in 15 years where we can say this year’s budget will be balanced and the next several years’ budgets, they will also be balanced.”

Michels pressed Brown on the effects of raising sales taxes and other measures to achieve balance, and particularly how he considers the poor.

“What I’m trying to do here is recognize California as a very compassionate state,” Brown said. “We spend more than twice as much as all — as other states do on dependent families, essentially our welfare program, CalWORKs. We have more money going to child care. We have more money going to many of these things to bolster the safety net and to compensate for the ravages of the world economy.”

Still, some detractors have said his projections are too optimistic to achieve the balance.

Watch the report here or below:

Michels also dove deeper into the Golden State’s financial picture in this blog post.


  • Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will not stay for Mr. Obama’s second term and instead will head home to Colorado, the Denver Post scoops overnight.

  • The House finally passed a $50 billion bill to aid victims of super-storm Sandy.

  • Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., endorsed Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense on Tuesday, boosting the former Nebraska senator’s prospects for being confirmed.

  • Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., penned an anti-spending op-ed in the National Review.

  • Bloomberg News sizes up the spike in firearm manufacturing licenses in various states. And Time Magazine’s cover story this week assesses the gun-fighting trio of former Rep. Gabby Giffords, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Biden.

  • After taking the oath of office a second time, Mr. Obama and the first lady will ride down Pennsylvania Avenue in a limousine that features Washington, D.C., license plates reading “Taxation Without Representation,” supporting the long-standing effort among many living in the capital to obtain a vote in Congress. It’s a switch from four years ago, and the plates will stay on the cars through his second term. “President Obama has lived in the District now for four years, and has seen first hand how patently unfair it is for working families in D.C. to work hard, raise children and pay taxes without having a vote in Congress,” White House spokesman Keith Maley said in a statement. “Attaching these plates to the presidential vehicles demonstrates the president’s commitment to the principle of full representation for the people of the District of Columbia and his willingness to fight for voting rights, home rule and budget autonomy for the District.”

  • It comes as no surprise that D.C.’s sole representative in Congress, the non-voting Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, has introduced the perennial bill asking for state recognition.

  • The National Review’s Jim Geraghty reports that former South Carolina GOP Gov. Mark Sanford is launching a political comeback, running for the House seat vacated by Republican Tim Scott, who was appointed to the Senate. In 2009, Sanford admitted having an extramarital affair.

  • Texas has sued New Mexico over how it delivers water — or fails to allow enough — from the Rio Grande basin.

  • The Hill’s Emily Goodin reviews what a second term could be like for Michelle Obama.

  • We couldn’t help but laugh when Jay Carney referenced this West Wing scene in his White House briefing.

  • The mystery of what happened to Florida GOP Gov. Rick Scott’s dog, Reagan, has been solved. The rescue pooch was returned to his previous owner in 2011 and given back his original name of Pluto. He has since been adopted and is living on a horse ranch.

  • Outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta weighs in on “Zero Dark Thirty.” (James Gandolfini plays him in the film.)

  • Wednesday’s tidbit from NewsHour partner Face the Facts USA aims to explain the $400,000 presidential salary.


But first, watch this conversation about the non-digital strategy things that interest him:


Meena Ganesan, Cassie M. Chew and Terence Burlij contributed to this report.

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

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