President Barack Obama stepped out into the political crossfire on Wednesday, issuing a sweeping series of proposals aimed at limiting gun violence that includes criminal background checks on all gun sales and a ban on military-style assault weapons.
“While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try it,” said Obama, conceding that the most important of the provisions depend on action in Congress, which clearly will not come easily.
And it appears that the Republican-majority House of Representatives may not be the only hurdle there. The Democrat-majority Senate may also serve to hold up passage of the key provisions of the Obama proposal, with an eye to the political clout of the National Rifle Association, which itself launched an offensive at Obama with a new below-the-belt TV ad that uses Obama’s young daughters as political targets.
U.S. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., said in a statement that he views some of the Obama proposals specific to guns “controversial,” but added that “there appears to be growing bipartisan consensus around improvements to the mental health system and broadening background checks.”
“The proposals put forth by the President will get serious consideration and debate, and I look forward to being part of that debate,” said Warner, a Blue Dog Democrat who had surprised some observers last month in the immediate aftermath of the shootings at a Connecticut elementary school with statements that appeared to put him in the direction of supporting serious gun-control measures.
U.S. Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., took a different tact on Wednesday, praising the Obama measures.
“I’ve long advocated universal background checks, including closing the gun show loophole, to ensure weapons do not fall into the hands of dangerous individuals,” Kaine said. “I am encouraged by proposals to increase security in our schools, including preparing and training school officials for emergency situations. I strongly support improvements to our mental health system. In the coming weeks I look forward to reviewing the details of proposed limits on killer magazines and combat weapons and believe we should adopt reasonable restrictions.
“The Senate must take action on this issue and I look forward to working together to achieve common sense reform that will keep our children and communities safer while preserving the Second Amendment,” Kaine said.