President Barack Obama has campaigned for gun control legislation after lone gunmen killed innocent civilians last year in both Colorado and Connecticut. Yet, as Politico reported Tuesday morning, gun control legislation is in danger of not passing the Democratically-controlled Senate, let alone the GOP-controlled House. Furthermore, a Gallup poll released Monday shows that restrictions on guns ranks very low--4 percent--among a list of "most important" issues for Americans.
Mark Kelly, the husband of former Arizona congresswoman Gabby Giffords and the founder of a pro-gun control super PAC, told reporters Tuesday that the "gun lobby" in Washington holds more sway over members of Congress than Obama does. Asked by THE WEEKLY STANDARD why the president hasn't been able to more effectively use the bully pulpit to get a tougher gun control bill, Kelly placed the blame on groups like the National Rifle Association.
"I think you have more than 350 members of Congress that are very afraid of the gun lobby," Kelly said at a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "So why can’t the president convince? I think they’re more concerned with the gun lobby than they are with what the president thinks on this issue. I mean, that’s clear to me as I speak to a number of U.S. senators and members of the House, that before anything else, they’re thinking about their next election and how much money the NRA’s going to spend."
Kelly pointed out that 90 percent of Americans, including a large majority of gun owners and NRA members, support the concept of a background check for potential firearm customers, the major provision in the Senate bill being debated this week. It's a similar point that Obama himself made in an interview with NBC aired Tuesday. The president also blamed the "gun lobby" for bill's difficult road ahead in Congress.
"Ninety percent of Americans think we should make it tougher for criminals or people with serious mental illnesses to obtain a gun. And so the notion that Congress would defy the overwhelming instinct of the American people after what we saw happen in Newtown I think is unimaginable," Obama said.
Host Savannah Guthrie asked the president about asking Democrats in conservatives states to take a tough vote on gun control, noting that Obama did not run on the issue himself in either 2008 nor 2012.
"If the question is, is this potentially difficult politically because the gun lobby is paying attention and has shown no willingness to budge, then the answer is yes," Obama said.