But beyond universal background checks, the rest of the president’s proposals look as if they could be in for a hard slog.
Senate Democrats vow to fight for the president. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D) of Vermont, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, told students at Georgetown University’s Law Center on Wednesday that he would begin a series of hearings on gun control two weeks from Wednesday. That would mark the first congressional action on the subject.
“I think it is an urgent situation and that’s why the first hearings of anybody, House or Senate, will be held by me,” Senator Leahy said. “I would point out that I have a track record of getting legislation passed.”
Crucially, Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D) of Nevada said in a statement Wednesday he was “committed” to Senate consideration of gun-violence legislation early in 2013.
But Democrats will need at least five Senate Republicans to avoid a filibuster. And when Republicans look at the options laid out by the president, they don’t like much of what they see.
“President Obama is targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R) of Florida.
Specifically, Republicans took aim at restrictions on assault weapons and potential new limits on magazines that hold the weapons' ammunition.
“Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R) of South Carolina. “As for reinstating the assault-weapons ban, it has already been tried and failed.”
Many reacted negatively to Obama’s executive orders, saying the use of such powers shows the president is not acting in good faith.
“Instead of a thoughtful, open and deliberate conversation, President Obama is attempting to institute new restrictions on a fundamental constitutional right.... It’s the wrong way to unite people behind a proposal on such a powerful and emotional topic,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, the top Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who had previously expressed some openness to restrictions on bullet magazines, in a statement. “The legislative proposals face an uphill battle in Congress.”