What prospects are there on Capitol Hill for Barack Obama’s upcoming push for comprehensive gun-control legislation? Zero, as long as the House remains under Republican control, despite all of the talk about an ObamaCare-like approach that attempts to pull in support from big business. But it doesn’t look all that good in the Senate, either. Newly-elected Democratic Senator Heidi Heitkamp told George Stephanopoulos that Obama’s “extreme” proposals don’t address the real issues, and that it won’t even pass the Senate:
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D, told me this morning on “This Week” that while all options should be on the table to address gun violence, President Obama’s reported plans to curb shootings are ”way in extreme” when I pressed her this morning on the kinds on measures she could potentially support.
“I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration – and if the Washington Post is to be believed – that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about. And it’s not going to pass,” said Heitkamp, a member of the National Rifle Association.
Heitkamp, who has an “A” rating from the NRA and was elected in a state that Gov. Mitt Romney won by nearly 20 points, stressed the importance of addressing mental health as part of the effort to curb violent shootings.
“Let’s start addressing the problem. And to me, one of the issues that I think comes, screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill,” she said. “And, so, we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control.”
The Washington Post had reported over the weekend that the White House wanted to build a broad coalition for much more far-ranging legislation than first thought:
The White House is weighing a far broader and more comprehensive approach to curbing the nation’s gun violence than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, according to multiple people involved in the administration’s discussions.
A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.
To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association that one source said could include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses. White House aides have also been in regular contact with advisers to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), an outspoken gun-control advocate who could emerge as a powerful surrogate for the Obama administration’s agenda.
In addition to potential legislative proposals, Biden’s group has expanded its focus to include measures that would not need congressional approval and could be quickly implemented by executive action, according to interest-group leaders who have discussed options with Biden and key Cabinet secretaries. Possibilities include changes to federal mental-health programs and modernization of gun-tracking efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
That last sentence caught the eye of Katie Pavlich:
It is important to keep an eye on the Department of Justice as the focus in the media is on President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden. After all, Attorney General Eric Holder, the same guy who said we should “brainwash” people against guns, oversees the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and has already pushed through new gun control regulations. Not to mention, we all know how well ATF tracks guns…yes, the same people who deliberately allowed the trafficking of thousands of assault weapons to violent Mexican cartels are now being put in charge of controlling the type of firearms you own.
The ATF has a huge credibility issue that this administration has made exponentially worse, thanks to its invocation of executive privilege on Fast & Furious. Until that gets resolved, why should anyone trust what the White House has to say on guns and violence at all?