Biden’s Plan To Curb Gun Violence Goes To President Tuesday
(CNN) — One day before recommendations to curb gun violence go to President Barack Obama, the administration’s point man on that effort meets with fellow Democrats, the governor of Maryland proposes tough new regulations, and a new poll shows increased support for gun restrictions.
No Republicans were expected to attend Monday’s meeting with a task force headed by Vice President Joe Biden, according to a White House official.
That called into question Biden’s earlier remarks that a consensus was forming around a set of gun-policy recommendations in the wake of the Sandy Hook shootings in December, which shook the nation and even temporarily silenced the National Rifle Association.
However, Monday’s discussion is only “part of a larger outreach effort that will involve other members of Congress as the administration explores legislative priorities,” a source familiar with the talks told CNN.
Obama appointed Biden to lead the administration’s effort to come up with solutions to stem mass shootings after the Newtown massacre, demanding reforms by this month.
Biden led a series of meetings in recent weeks with gun control advocates, gun violence victims, the NRA and others — including talks on violence in media with television and film industry representatives.
Last week, Biden told reporters he was surprised by the breadth of support for universal background checks and restrictions on the sale of high-capacity magazines, which gun control advocates believe contribute to increased carnage at mass shootings.
The package may also include mental health provisions that could garner wider support.
But the proposal is expected to ignite intense fights over new gun restrictions, including the wider imposition of background checks and the reinstatement of a federal assault weapons ban, which was allowed to expire in 2004.
That means selling gun control legislation to a divided Congress will be anything but a sure bet. The NRA has vowed to fight it tooth and nail, including an ad campaign.
“I would say that the likelihood is they’re not going to be able to get an assault weapons ban through this Congress,” NRA President David Keene said on Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
However, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, said the public is demanding a change and predicted Congress would respond.
“This is a real tipping point,” Schiff said Monday on CNN’s “Starting Point. “The country has reached an awful fatigue with these repeated shootings.”
Both gun rights advocate and supporters of stricter gun control have reacted vehemently to the discussion so far.
A coalition of gun rights groups has scheduled “Gun Appreciation Day” for January 19, urging Americans to “go to your local gun store, gun range or gun show with your Constitution, American flags and your ‘Hands off my Guns’ sign to send a loud and clear message.”
But the shootings also have prompted a wide-ranging series of initiatives designed to rally Americans to counter the vast influence of the 4.2-million member NRA in Congress, including a political action committee formed by former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and her husband, Mark Kelly.
And New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Monday at a Johns Hopkins University seminar on gun violence that more than one million people have signed a petition backed by his group, Mayors Against Illegal Guns.
He said such actions signal a change in public perceptions on gun issues sparked by the Newtown shootings.
“For many Americans, this is the straw that broke the camel’s back,” he said Monday.
Polling appears to support the contention.
Poll shows public dissatisfied with gun laws
A new Gallup poll released Monday shows 38% of Americans are dissatisfied with current gun laws and support stricter proposals. That is a 13 percentage point jump from a year ago.
The shift is most marked among men. The poll revealed a 17 percent increase in support for stricter gun control laws among men, compared to 10 percentage points for women. That may be because polling has shown women already tend to be more supportive of gun control legislation.
The increase spanned the partisan divide, however it was strongest with Democrats, 64 percent of whom said they favor additional regulations. That’s up 22 percentage points from last year, Gallup reported.
Among Republicans, support rose by 12 percentage points, but still stands at 18 percent overall.
The poll of 1,011 adults was conducted January 7-10 and has a sampling error of plus or minus four percentage points.
In other developments:
New gun violence proposal in Maryland
Speaking at a Johns Hopkins University summit on reducing gun violence, Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said he will debut gun control proposals this week that would ban military style assault weapons and limit the size of magazines and introduce a “common-sense licensing requirement for handguns that respects the traditions of hunters and sportsmen.”
The proposals would also include mental health reforms, O’Malley said.
Those include additional funds for treatment and efforts to detect and head off serious mental illness sooner. The plan also calls for investments is school safety, including a center to study ways to improve security at schools.
He said the issue isn’t a partisan one, but rather a public health issue, and said it “makes no sense to blame every factor but guns.”
“There may be no way to completely prevent the next Newtown tragedy,” he said. “But again, perhaps there is.”
The proposals come a week after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, another Democrat, spelled out tough new gun control proposals for his state.
Cuomo called for an assault weapons ban, background checks for people who purchase guns in private transations and a ban on high-capacity magazines.
One month since shooting
At the epicenter of the current debate — Newtown — no commemorations or rallies were planned for the one-month anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings.
The shootings left 20 children and six adults dead, in addition to shooter Adam Lanza and his mother.
A group of Newtown residents pursuing gun control reforms, “Sandy Hook Promise,” will hold a news conference to discuss its take on the debate.
Meanwhile, the school where the shootings took place remains closed, its students attending classes at a renovated building in a nearby town.
The street leading to the school remains barricaded as locals debate what to do with the building.