Still, the jury is out as to whether this bully-pulpit campaign will help or hurt the president in his ultimate goal: to enact new federal restrictions on access to firearms and ammunition in the name of reducing gun violence.
As public support for more gun control flags, the only hope of rebuilding that support is for the president to take action, suggests Harry Enten, a blogger at the Guardian who focuses on policy and public opinion.
“Gun control has gone nowhere in Congress, while the president was saying little,” Mr. Enten wrote last week. “Nationally, public will on the issue is fading. The situation for gun control advocates could hardly be worse, in fact.
“The flipside, though, is that by speaking, Obama can engage and activate a public that is still firmly in favor of background checks. He just might be able to change the dynamic and make politicians recognize that, politically, they are on the wrong side of the issue.”
Obama’s original hope for new gun control included a renewed ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines. And while he insists he hasn’t given up on those aspects, he is now placing more emphasis on expanding background checks for gun buyers – a measure for which public support is still above 80 percent.
But there’s a potential downside to the president’s renewed campaign on gun control: By putting himself out there so publicly on the issue, he risks stirring up and strengthening opposition, Enten adds.
“The president could simply polarize the debate even more,” he writes. “This campaign may make red state Democrats even more squeamish, and will almost certainly make the Republican-controlled House even less likely to move towards more regulation.”
Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer expressed confidence Wednesday that gun legislation would make it through Congress.