Gun Laws & Legislation
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: U.S. President Barack Obama (R), is flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) before signing an executive order designed to tackle gun control, on January 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images) WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 16: U.S. President Barack Obama (R), is flanked by Vice President Joe Biden (L) before signing an executive order designed to tackle gun control, on January 16, 2012 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)  

TheDC Analysis: Obama, Biden, split over gun controversy

Neil Munro
White House Correspondent

Biden’s open acknowledgement of Americans’ established views on guns likely reflects his careful navigation of gun-related controversies during his long race whose only remaining checkpoint may be the 2016 presidential election.

He is trying to simultaneously woo anti-gun Democrats who are important in the Democratic primaries and security-conscious suburban mothers who are important in the general election.

But Biden is also trying not to alienate the large number of American gun owners who can sway the results of presidential elections.

So he’s pushing for curbs on guns — for example, establishing a ban on so-called “assault weapons” and high-capacity magazines — while also arguing that such curbs would not imfringe upon people’s ability to hunt or protect themselves.

In contrast, Obama faces a different political problem, following his final election campaign in November 2012. His incentives have prompted him to stoke suburbanites’ latent worries about guns before the 2014 midterm election, regardless of that strategy’s impact among rural voters who are important in presidential elections.

His ambitious progressive agenda has largely been stymied since 2011 by the GOP’s victory in the 2010 and 2012 House elections, and so he’s now trying to win back control of the House of Representatives in 2014.

“Until Republicans feel that there’s a real price to pay for them just saying no and being obstructionist, you’ll probably see at least a number of them arguing that we should keep on doing it,” he said in the New Republic interview. “It worked for them in the 2010 election cycle, and I think there are those who believe that it can work again.”

He’s already created high-profile fights on the budget issues, and this week he’s expected to provide another fight by calling for a large-scale rewrite of immigration law and for conditional amnesty to be awarded to at least 11 million illegal immigrants.

He’s largely given up hope of pressuring GOP legislators from rural or conservative districts that include many gun-rights supporters. “The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion,” he said in the New Republic interview.

But in his White House press event — which was conducted shortly before the New Republic interview was conducted— he aimed his appeal at suburban, swing-voting mothers worried about armed lunatics in their neighborhoods.