The Obama administration and Democrats in Congress are launching a massive gun control campaign as the President begins his second term and a divided Capitol Hill returns to work.
Billed as a response to the Sandy Hook shootings in December, the campaign includes ten gun control bills that were introduced on the first day of the 113th Congress–none of which would have prevented the shootings from taking place.
In addition, Vice President Joe Biden is leading a working group that will recommend legislative changes to the nation’s gun laws by the end of January. The groups will also recommend steps that the executive branch might take on its own, without consulting Congress–a favored tactic of President Barack Obama, who prefers unilateral exertions of power to the give-and-take of negotiating with Congress and his political opposition.
(President Obama’s decision to delegate the legislative and regulatory work to someone else is also characteristic of his governing style. He delegated the writing of Obamacare legislation to Congress, left the recent “fiscal cliff” talks to his staff, and left oversight of the $862 billion stimulus to Vice President Biden. President Obama prefers speaking to negotiating, and campaigning to governing, using public pressure to achieve his goals.)
The National Rifle Association, thought to be one of the most powerful lobby groups in Washington, with dues-paying members in both parties, is already on the defensive. In December, NRA President Wayne LaPierre delivered a strident defense of the Second Amendment–one disrupted by Code Pink protesters, to whom the media paid great attention. LaPierre also called for armed guards to be placed in the nation’s schools.
Other defenders of gun ownership have called for stronger legislation regarding the mentally ill–specifically, laws that would make it easier to have disturbed individuals committed to mental institutions. Some have argued that Connecticut might have been able to prevent the Sandy Hook shooting had it not failed to pass such legislation earlier this year. Civil liberties groups such as the ACLU helped defeat the legislation.
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