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Entries in Gun Control (68)

Saturday
Aug032013

VT Sen. Says Bloomberg's Gun Ads 'Didn't Help a Bit'

City of New York(WASHINGTON) -- Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., pointed some of the blame for the failed Senate debate over comprehensive background checks at New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who dedicated millions of dollars to eviscerating senators who opposed such legislation.

“Unfortunately, you have some on the left, like the mayor of New York City, who actually didn’t help a bit with his ads. He actually turned off some people that we might have gotten for supporters,” Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in an interview to air on C-SPAN's Newsmakers on Sunday. “Then you have some on the far right who say that the second amendment allows us to have anything. I mean, you can take a machine gun to deer hunting. There needs to be a balance between the two.”

In the weeks following the Senate’s unsuccessful vote on the background check bill, Bloomberg poured millions of his own money into television ads attacking Republican senators like Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire and Jeff Flake of Arizona, who voted against the legislation. Bloomberg also launched an airwave assault on Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark., a vulnerable incumbent in the 2014 election.

Bloomberg’s tactics drew some earlier criticism from Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill advocating for stricter gun control who thought his ads were detrimental to the cause and also threatened Democrats’ hold on the majority in the Senate.

“I spoke to the mayor this week — he and I have been friends for some time — to remind him, just as I’ve reminded everyone here, that to have Republicans in control of the Senate is a sure sign we will never ever get anything done,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said in June.

“Frankly, I don’t think Bloomberg’s ads are effective,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said in June. “The mayor of New York City putting ads against people in red states is not going to be effective.”

Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group founded by former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and husband Mark Kelly, also ran ads criticizing senators who voted against the legislation.

Leahy predicted the background check bill will not make it back to the Senate floor.

“It is not going to get through now,” Leahy said. “It’s unfortunate because, Could you pass one law that would stop all the gun violence in this country? No, but can you do a lot better than we have? Yes.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Jul072013

Gabby Giffords Meets With George H.W. Bush on Gun Control Tour

Joshua Lott/Getty Images(KENNEBUNKPORT, Maine) -- Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband former astronaut Mark Kelly had lunch Saturday with former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara at their Kennebunkport, Maine home, Giffords spokeswoman Pia Carusone tells ABC News.

Giffords and Kelly are on their seven-day seven-state “Rights and Responsibilities Tour,” to push for expanded background checks for firearms purchases. They are also being accompanied by some families of victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting who were with them Friday evening in New Hampshire and Saturday  in Maine.

This isn’t the first time Giffords and Bush have met. When Giffords was recovering in a Houston hospital, Bush and his wife Barbara went to visit her. In her 2011 memoir with Kelly, they write that at that point in her recovery she could only say “chicken” to the former president and first lady.

Bush has an interesting history with gun control himself. In 1989, then President George H. W. Bush issued an executive order halting the importation of some semi-automatic firearms after a mass shooting that killed five children and wounded 29 others in California in January 1989. The shooter used an AK-47 assault rifle.

In 1995, the former president resigned from the National Rifle Association after the NRA compared agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms to “Nazis” who harass gun owners.

“Your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor, and it offends my concept of service to country,” Bush wrote in a letter to the NRA president Thomas Washington on May 3, 1995. “It indirectly slurs a wide array of government law-enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us.”

In a fundraising letter at the time NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre, who still holds that title, described federal agents as “wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black storm trooper uniforms” and wanting to “attack law-abiding citizens,” which Bush called “vicious slander on good people.”

Bush’s resignation letter ended with: “You have not repudiated Mr. LaPierre’s unwarranted attack. Therefore, I resign as a life member of NRA, said resignation to be effective upon your receipt of this letter. Please remove my name from your membership list. Sincerely, George Bush.”

In April, the Senate defeated legislation that called for tighter background checks on gun purchases, and Giffords and Kelly made stops in some of the states with senators who voted against the measure in a bid to get them to switch their votes.

The tour kicked off Monday in Nevada, where at a shooting range in Las Vegas Giffords shot a gun for the first time since being shot in the head in early 2011. They then stopped in Alaska, North Dakota, Ohio, and New Hampshire. The goal is to apply pressure to Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska; Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio; and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., all of whom voted against the legislation in April.

Giffords and Kelly also stopped in Maine and Sunday they plan to be in North Carolina to thank Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Sen. Kay Hagan, D-N.C., for supporting the background-check legislation.

Kelly got in some target practice in Nevada, Alaska, and went shooting in the north country of New Hampshire on the tour. The message they are sending is a clear one: they are not anti-gun, they just want what they call reasonable gun control. They are armed with their own commissioned polling in individual states, which show there is wide support for background checks in the states where senators voted against the legislation.

An ABC News poll in April found that 86 percent of Americans support extending background checks to gun sales at gun shows and online.

At a stop in Nevada, Kelly said through their “research we have found that a lot of criminals buy guns at gun shows and over the Internet and that needs to change.” He added that Giffords “inspires me every day.” She was almost killed in January, 2011 when a mentally ill man shot her and killed six others in her congressional district in Tucson, Ariz.

Besides going shooting, on the tour they have also stopped in a diner in North Dakota, grabbed ice cream in Ohio, threw out the first pitch at a baseball game in Manchester, N.H., and met with community leaders in all of the states trying to push their message.

In Nevada, Giffords told a crowd tougher background checks cuts across partisan lines.

“Democrats and Republicans, everyone. We must do something. Fight, fight, fight,” Giffords said.

It’s something Carusone, a longtime Giffords aide, also noted in an interview at the beginning of the tour, telling ABC News they will be meeting with a “coalition of unlikely allies that support commonsense gun measures,” including “gun owners, Republicans, independents, hunters, all sort of people.”

“We are with Republicans [on the tour who] we may disagree with on other issues, but on this issue they want bipartisanship and they want Congress to make some progress on this,” Carusone said.

At least one of the senators who was in the spotlight of the tour, Sen. Heitkamp, responded to the visit telling ABC affiliate WDAY-TV in Fargo, N.D., that while she does support legislation that prevents trafficking of firearms she won’t be changing her mind.

“I think that is something that we could get behind if we can get some compromise but I don’t see this thing coming up again,” Heitkamp said.

In January, Giffords and Kelly announced the creation of Americans for Responsible Solutions, and sat down with ABC News’ Diane Sawyer to discuss the initiative and mark the second anniversary of the Tucson shooting. Giffords and Kelly said the December shooting at the Sandy Hook School meant they had to do something more.

“Enough,” Giffords told Sawyer.

“After the shooting in Tucson, there was talk about addressing some of these issues, [and] again after [a movie theater massacre in] Aurora [Colo.],” Kelly said. “I’m hopeful that this time is different, and I think it is. Twenty first-graders’ being murdered in their classrooms is a very personal thing for everybody.”

 

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May052013

Glenn Beck at NRA Rally: 'Freedom of All Mankind is at Stake'

Michael Caulfield/WireImage(HOUSTON) -- Television and radio host Glenn Beck warned NRA members that the "freedom of all mankind is at stake" and the "right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed."

"They want to fundamentally transform our country and they've just about finished the project," Beck told an audience of thousands Saturday evening at the NRA convention's Stand and Fight Rally in Houston, Texas. "They feel they must regulate us until we comply, but I will not comply."

Beck grew teary at times and used historically significant guns to talk about the importance of keeping second amendment rights free from any sort of federal gun control laws, stressing "a gun is only a reflection of the people who use it" and warning the audience "we cannot falter, we cannot fail."

"We have to admit two things," Beck added. "That weapons will always find their way into the hands of bad people, always…but we must declare this: that guns must remain in the hands of good people."

Beck's speech ended the second day of the NRA's annual convention where speaker after speaker warned the crowd of thousands of members that their second amendment rights were being attacked by the president specifically and Washington in general.

The leadership told the crowd they may have been victorious when the Manchin-Toomey amendment failed, but the fight is not over.

"Let's not fool ourselves it doesn't mean the war is over," NRA president David Keene told the crowd.

"We must never confuse winning a battle with winning a war. We all know that as we meet here our opponents are regrouping and we know that they'll be back. They are as dedicated today as they've ever been to consigning you and me and all those who believe in the freedoms guaranteed us by these nation's founders to the outer darkness."

Wayne LaPierre, the group's executive vice president and face of the organization, focused the fight on President Obama saying "there is nothing the president will not do to get something, anything, through Congress to advance his agenda to destroy the Second Amendment. Nothing."

"So far, thanks to you and millions of Americans like you, that's exactly what President Obama has gotten — absolutely nothing," LaPierre said.

LaPierre said the failed background checks vote was "significant," but warned it was only "one skirmish in what can only be defined as a long war against our constitutional rights."

"We are in the midst of a once-in-a-generation fight for everything that we care about," LaPierre said.

"We have a chance to secure our freedom for a generation, or to lose it forever. We must remain vigilant, we must remain ever resolute and steadfastly growing and preparing for the even the more critical battles that loom before us. I am proud to report as I stand in front of you this morning that the state of our NRA is stronger and larger than it has ever been...Our commitment to freedom is unwavering, our growth unprecedented."

LaPierre continued saying "without that freedom, we aren't really free at all."

"They can try to blame and shame us with all their might, but when it comes to defending the Second Amendment, we will never sacrifice our freedom upon the altar of elitist acceptance," LaPierre said to applause. "And we will never surrender our guns — never."

LaPierre promised whether "it's round 1 or 2 or 15, this NRA will go the distance."

"And no matter what it takes, we will never give up or compromise our constitutional freedom, not one single inch," LaPierre bellowed.

LaPierre, as well as Keene, launched a rallying cry for the 2014 midterm elections as well as the 2016 presidential election.

James W. Porter II, who is expected to be named president by the NRA board of directors next week succeeding Keene as the group's next president said, "I hear some Americans say with the last election, the country is lost. No, no. An election was lost."

"There's another election more important for the second amendment right around the corner," Porter said to cheers. "With the U.S. Senate and the House up for grabs, we as individual NRA members can direct the massive energy of spontaneous combustion to gain the political high ground. We do that and Obama can be stopped."

It wasn't just the leadership and Beck that pushed the message of standing up to threats they foresee to gun rights during the second day of the convention. John Fafoutakis from Sheridan, Wyo. took to the stage with a message for "all those gun grabbers in Washington.

"And to the gun grabbers of the United Nations who want to disarm all law-abiding Americans, I have these kind words for you 'Fill your hand, you son of a bitch," Fafoutakis said -- reprising a famous John Wayne line from the movie True Grit.

Outside of the convention hall victims of gun violence including family members of those killed in the Sandy Hook School shooting in Newtown, Conn. and the 2011 Tucson shooting were part of a group that held signs protesting the convention, some read "Protect Our Children."

Several tried to engage NRA members in conversation, mostly resulting in civil conversations with differing opinions.

Erica Lafferty, whose mother Dawn Hochsprung was the principal of Sandy Hook Elementary, and Neil Heslin, who lost his 6-year-old son Jesse, were both in attendance.

Other protesters, just across the street from the convention, read the names of those killed by gun violence.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May022013

Ayotte’s Gun Vote Follows Her to NH Town Hall

KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images(FITZWILLIAM, N.H.) -- Sen. Kelly Ayotte ticked through a Power Point presentation at a town meeting Thursday, delivering an update on the federal budget, the challenges of implementing the health care law and the slow-to-recovery economy.

It seemed like a typical afternoon civics discussion if Gilles Rousseau hadn’t driven from Connecticut and taken a seat in the front row. He clutched a folder carrying the death certificate of his daughter, Lauren, a first-grade teacher killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“It says she died of multiple gunshot wounds,” he said in an interview, pausing to compose himself, apologizing for his tears. Rousseau said he had one burning question for the senator: Why did you vote against expanding background checks?

He never got the chance to ask. He was not called upon during the hour-long town meeting. Some residents held signs outside before the meeting, saying only New Hampshire voters should speak. When another man rose to ask Ayotte to explain why she voted against expanding background checks, several people in the audience of more than 250 people applauded.

“I know people have strong feelings about this issue,” Ayotte began. She said she voted against the bipartisan compromise on background checks last month because she believed gun owners would face an undue burden and she feared it could lead to a federal gun registry.

In fact, the legislation called for a felony punishment for gun shop owners who tried to create a permanent registry, though Ayotte did not mention this at the meeting.

“I thought the focus should be on fixing the current background check system and mental health,” Ayotte said.

She declined interview requests, but when asked by ABC News whether she believed her vote was being mischaracterized, she paused and said, “Yes,” before being spirited away by aides.

The biggest Congressional gun control debate in two decades is still reverberating, particularly for several senators who voted against expanding background checks and the bipartisan plan put forward by Senators Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, and Pat Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania.

Ayotte was among the senators who had considered supporting the bill, but decided to oppose it in the final days. She is under fire by supporters of gun control and being showered with praise by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups. She is not up for re-election until 2016, but her vote is the subject of a barrage of television and radio ads from both sides.

Her town meetings across New Hampshire this week have drawn supporters and detractors who expressed less interest in her standard Power Point presentation than her stance on guns. Stephen Murphy, a retiree from Fitzwilliam, stood outside the town meeting with a sign identifying him as a gun owner who was furious at Ayotte’s vote. He said it was his first outward political act, aside from voting, but the Newtown shootings changed his views on guns.

“I came to the meeting to make sure that Kelly knows that not all gun owners are agreeing with what she’s saying,” Murphy said. “Background checks are not a problem. I’ve been though them myself. I’ve owned guns for 50 years. The only thing a background check does to a prospective buyer is it gives you five more minutes to shop for more guns.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr242013

Giffords Group Targets McConnell, Ayotte in Gun Vote Ads

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Americans for Responsible Solutions, the group founded by former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and her husband Mark Kelly, released its first ads Wednesday attacking senators who voted against the bill last week that would have expanded background checks for people buying guns.

The radio ads target Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., and will run in their home states. The Kentucky ads will air in Lexington and Louisville, while the New Hampshire ads will run in Concord, Manchester, Keene, and the seacoast.

“It was a common-sense plan that protected Second Amendment Rights. But Senator McConnell ignored the will of the people,” a voice says in the ad airing in Kentucky.

“Well, it sure didn’t take long for her to ‘go Washington.’ Says here Ayotte voted against improving background checks to keep guns out of the hands of criminals,” a woman says in the New Hampshire ad.

Last week, Kelly told reporters their group would air ads supporting those senators who voted in favor of the Manchin-Toomey plan, in addition to attack ads against those who did not vote for the measure.

Asked the day after the background check vote if they hope to oust any senators up for re-election in 2014, Kelly said, “It’s a target-rich environment after yesterday.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr242013

TN State Senator Refuses to Apologize for Pressure Cooker Joke

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- A Tennessee state senator is refusing to apologize for what many are calling a "tasteless" joke about pressure cookers in his blog in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombing.

Republican State Sen. Stacey Campfield posted a photo of a pressure cooker with "Assault Pressure Cooker (APC)" printed below it. The photo had labels and arrows pointing to all of the pot's "dangerous" features including a "muzzle break thingy that goes 'up'" and a "tactical pistol grip." It's also described as "large-capacity, can cook for hours without reloading" and the color was "evil, black."

The blog post was titled, "Here comes Feinstein again," an apparent dig at Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.), one of the leading proponents in the battle for gun control. The image implied that pressure cookers might be her next target.

Two pressure cookers were turned into bombs in the Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260 people.

Campfield dismisses the criticism.

"I think it's tasteless when Obama will drag everybody he can up to Capitol Hill and try to pass gun control," Campfield told ABCNews.com Wednesday. "I think that was classless and tasteless. I don't hear them complaining about that too much."

"I was showing the hypocrisy of Diane Feinstein, the gun grabbers, of their inability to realize that it is a person that does activity, not an inanimate object, be it a gun or a pressure cooker," he said.

Campfield also posted a follow-up post on his blog titled, "Inappropriate? Me? Never!"

He wrote that he had gotten a call from the media inquiring about the blog being called "inappropriate."
"Really?" Campfield wrote. "If my post was inappropriate talking about 'crock pot control' then where is the outrage from the left when they push for gun control after the Sandy Hook shooting? Im [sic] sorry if I exposed your double standard....Well, not really."

Dozens of people commented on the pressure cooker post and its follow-up post, both condemning and supporting the senator.

"What kind of insensitive imbecile thinks it's okay to post a picture like this? Do you think it's a joke? Three people dead, one an eight year old child and you think it's something to laugh about?" one person wrote.

Another defended it by writing, "Nowhere in this post do I see anyone laughing over death. The post is about double standards."

Campfield has not been the only lawmaker in trouble for seemingly insensitive comments.

During the manhunt for the bombing suspects on April 19 that put Boston on lockdown, Arkansas Republican State Rep. Nate Bell tweeted, "I wonder how many Boston liberals spent the night cowering in their homes wishing they had an AR-15 with a hi-capacity magazine? #2A."

Bell pulled the tweet and apologized after a barrage of criticism.

"I would like to apologize to the people of Boston & Massachusetts for the poor timing of my tweet earlier this morning," he posted on Facebook. "As a staunch and unwavering supporter of the individual right to self defense, I expressed my point of view without thinking of its effect on those still in time of crisis."

Bell said he regretted the "poor choice of timing."

Campfield is no stranger to criticism for his opinions. He was behind a failed bill that proposed reducing welfare assistance for kids with low grades in school and authored a controversial bill that would prohibit teachers from discussing any sexuality aside from heterosexuality up until the eighth grade.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr182013

Boehner Uncommitted to Gun Votes in House

Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- After the U.S. Senate voted down a slate of proposals to toughen the country’s gun laws Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner was non-committal Thursday on the prospect of considering similar measures in the House of Representatives. Still, the speaker maintained that the Republican-controlled committees of jurisdiction in the House will continue examining mental health and gun violence.

“Our committees continue to work at this,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “No decision has been made beyond that.”

When he was asked whether he would expedite consideration of a bill or follow regular order, in which a bill starts at the committee level, and, separately, whether he believes there should be a political price to pay for lawmakers who oppose stronger gun legislation, the speaker’s tone carried a lack of urgency.

“Our committees are going to continue to look at the violence in our society and look at these tragedies and determine whether there are common-sense steps that we can take to reduce the chances of this,” Boehner said. “The relevant committees are working on this issue. I’m going to continue to work with them, and when we have a decision to announce, we’ll announce it.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats are “so disappointed” by the Senate’s failed efforts, but she said she will continue fighting for stronger gun measures.

“Something must be done, because that’s what the American people expect and what they deserve,” Pelosi, D-Calif., said. “What we want also is a vote. The American people can say to the leadership in the Congress, to the speaker of the House, give us a vote. Give us a vote in the House.”

Boehner has long maintained that he would wait until the Senate actually passes legislation – not simply takes votes on gun measures – before he considers any gun-related legislation on the House floor.

On Thursday, despite the actuality of the Senate’s failed votes, Pelosi urged Boehner to take up legislation without delay.

“If he was waiting for the Senate to act and now he feels he’s — doesn’t have any work to do, well, then that just says we’re not the legislative branch,” Pelosi said. “We’re the first branch of government, the legislative branch. It is our responsibility to legislate, and we have our responsibility in the House to do that.”

Rep. Mike Thompson, the chairman of the Democratic Task Force to Prevent Gun Violence, said that the failed vote in the Senate was “unexplainable,” but is “not going to slow us or deter our work in regard to gun violence prevention.”

“Every time I get in the car, the Garmin says, ‘Recalculating, recalculating,’” Thompson, D-Calif., joked. “We’ll recalculate and get our bearing, and we’re going to go forward on this. The American people want their Congress to take action to make their communities, their neighborhoods, their workplace and their schools safer, and we can do that while protecting the Second Amendment.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Thursday
Apr182013

Mark Kelly: 'Gabby Is Angry Today'

Win McNamee/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Mark Kelly expressed anger shared by he and his wife, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, after the Senate failed to pass the Manchin-Toomey gun background check deal on Wednesday.

"Gabby is angry today, and she's horrified by the decision of a minority of her former colleagues to block progress on this measure," Giffords' husband, Mark Kelly, said on Thursday.

Kelly added, "Along with so many parents from Newtown, so many of our former neighbors in Tucson, who were here in Washington this week, Gabby's disappointed, and she's angry, and so am I, but neither of us are deterred."

Kelly echoed the claim Giffords had made in a New York Times op-ed on Wednesday, accusing some senators of "cowardice" and claiming they voted against the background check proposal "out of fear."

Americans for Responsible Solutions, a group run by Kelly and Giffords, is reportedly preparing to release advertisements thanking the senators who voted in favor of the legislation on Wednesday, naming Republican senators Susan Collins and John McCain, among others.

Giffords' op-ed was published on Wednesday and accused the Senate of being afraid of the National Rifle Association and the gun lobby, echoing President Barack Obama's frustration.

She derided Senators who may refer to the proposal as a "tough vote" or a "complicated issue," adamant that Wednesday's vote was neither.

"Mark my words: if we cannot make our communities safer with the Congress we have now, we will use every means available to make sure we have a different Congress," Giffords said. "To do nothing while others are in danger is not the American way."

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
Apr172013

Senate Will Vote Wednesday on Gun Control Legislation

iStockPhoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The day of reckoning is Wednesday for the embattled Manchin-Toomey background check provision and a myriad of other gun amendments, including a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity clips.

The outcome will determine the fate of the biggest gun control legislation the Senate will vote on in two decades.

A 4 p.m. vote on the Manchin-Toomey amendment will kick off the votes.

The amendment, proposed this past week as a bipartisan compromise from Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, and Sen. Pat Toomey, a Republican from Pennsylvania, always faced an uphill climb to pass in the Senate.

But the first real signs of trouble came Monday when a vote on the amendment was delayed from being formally scheduled when it was clear that the votes were not yet there for it to pass. By Tuesday, momentum seemed to slip away bit by bit when a few senators key to the outcome of the vote, including Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev., Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., announced that they could not vote for the bill.

The amendment will need 60 votes to pass.  And as of Tuesday night, the votes are not there yet.

When Manchin was asked by ABC News if he had 60 votes locked down, he said: “We need more than we have.”

Sen. Mark Kirk of Illinois, one of the Republican supporters for expanding background checks, said he was still working to win over some Republican senators. When asked if his side had enough votes to pass the amendment, he said: “We are not ready for a vote.”

The vote will be razor thin – so thin that neither side was sounding confident.

There are three Republican senators and four Democratic senators believed to still be undecided — John McCain, R-Ariz., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., Mary Landrieu, D-La., Mark Begich D-Alaska, Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., was seen as a wild card because, although he supports the amendment, he has been ill and home in New Jersey.  Aides said Lautenberg “hopes” to get back for the vote Wednesday.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., sounded a bit resigned Tuesday when he defended the bill’s momentum while, in the same breath, admitting that the votes may not be there. Regardless, he said, gun control supporters have the “wind at our back.”

President Obama made calls to the few undecided senators Tuesday, ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reported. A White House official said there still was a path to 60 votes but conceded it is “a narrow path.”

Yet the situation remained fluid, Republican and Democratic aides told ABC News, and either outcome was possible when the voting was to begin at 4 p.m. on Wednesday.

Following the Manchin-Toomey amendment vote, the Senate will vote on at least eight other gun amendments, all of which matter to the debate. They included voting up or down on an assault weapons ban, the issue of concealed carry, a high-capacity clip ban and mental health provisions.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Sunday
Mar242013

Bloomberg, NRA Brace for Showdown on Guns in Senate

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With the Senate slated to consider comprehensive gun legislation next month, two powerful voices on different sides of the gun debate - New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and the National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre – are bracing for the upcoming legislative showdown on guns.

Bloomberg’s gun group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns, announced this weekend that it will pour $12 million into advertising in 13 key states to convince potentially persuadable Democratic and Republican senators to vote in favor of gun legislation, specifically focusing on the controversial universal background checks – a measure that an ABC News/Washington Post poll found is supported by 91 percent of the public.

"We're trying to do everything we can to impress upon the senators that this is what the survivors want, this is what the public wants," Bloomberg said on NBC's Meet the Press Sunday.  "If 90 percent of the public want something, and their representatives vote against that, common sense says, they are going to have a price to pay for that."

The two TV ads, titled “Responsibility” and “Family,” feature a hunter sitting on the bed of a pick-up truck with a hunting rifle across his lap while children play on a tire swing in the background as he argues for universal background checks.

“For me, guns are for hunting and protecting my family.  I believe in the second amendment and I’ll fight to protect it but with rights come responsibility. That’s why I’m for comprehensive background checks so criminals and the dangerously mentally ill can’t buy guns.  That protects my rights and my family,” the man says in one ad.

The ads will target Republican and Democratic senators in Arizona, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, New Hampshire, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio and Pennsylvania.  

But Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, dismissed Bloomberg’s ad buy Sunday and called the New York City mayor’s positions on guns “reckless” and “insane.”

"He can't spend enough of his $27 billion to impose his will on the American people," LaPierre said on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday.  "They don’t want him in their restaurants. They don’t want him in their homes. They don’t want him telling what food to eat. They sure don’t want him telling what self-defense firearms to own. He can’t buy America.”

The Senate will consider a comprehensive gun package when it returns from the holiday recess next month.  For many Republicans and moderate Democrats, the universal background check requirement, which LaPierre called “a speed bump for the law-abiding,” is the sticking point in the package.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid announced that the controversial assault weapons ban would not be included as part of the package. Instead, it will receive a vote as an amendment but is not expected to receive approval from the full Senate.

Despite the measure not making it into the comprehensive plan, Bloomberg stood behind the assault weapons ban while acknowledging the measure is “difficult” for some lawmakers to sign onto.

“I don't think there's ever been an issue where the public has spoken so clearly, where Congress hasn't eventually understood and done the right thing,” Bloomberg said.  “We have a lot of work ahead of us. I don't think we should give up on the assault weapons ban. But clearly it is a more difficult issue for a lot of people.”

President Obama urged lawmakers to thoroughly consider all of the gun measures that have been presented in the Senate, including the assault weapons ban, in his weekly address Saturday.

“These ideas shouldn’t be controversial – they’re common sense.  They’re supported by a majority of the American people.  And I urge the Senate and the House to give each of them a vote,” the president said.

“Right now, we have a real chance to reduce gun violence in America, and prevent the very worst violence.  We have a unique opportunity to reaffirm our tradition of responsible gun ownership, and also do more to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or people with a severe mental illness,” he said. “We’ve made progress over the last three months, but we’re not there yet.  And in the weeks ahead, I hope members of Congress will join me in finishing the job – for our communities and, most importantly, for our kids.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio







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