Gun Laws & Legislation

Obama gun control tour hits Connecticut next

Tim Cavanaugh Contributor
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President Obama will fly to Connecticut Monday to make remarks about the state’s new gun laws. This will be the second time in five days the president has rewarded state-level gun control measures by traveling for in-state appearances.

The President will appear at the University of Hartford to “continue asking the American people to join him in calling on Congress to pass common-sense measures to reduce gun violence,” according to a White House release Sunday morning.

Connecticut’s legislature passed a 139-page gun control bill last week, which includes universal criminal background checks for all gun sales, creation of a “weapon offender registry,” 10-round limits on ammunition magazines, and other restrictions. The bill is scheduled to be signed later this week by Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.

Last week, Obama made an anti-gun stopover in Colorado part of a controversial transcontinental fundraising junket. That trip also capitalized on new state-level gun control laws. Centennial State Gov. John Hickenlooper in March signed a battery of new gun restrictions. Colorado and Connecticut were the locations of horrific gun rampages last year.

The president’s state-by-state strategy of pep talks is emerging as federal efforts at new restrictions have faltered. Senate Democrats, who return to session this week, have proved unable to put through a major gun control bill, and key items, such as a ban on so-called assault weapons and universal background check, appear at this time unlikely to appear in the final bill.

It is also unclear how new gun control laws will fare in judicial review. In the 21st-century rulings District of Columbia v. Heller and McDonald v. Chicago, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that gun ownership is an individual right specified in the U.S. constitution and that gun rights apply in all states under the 14th amendment’s due process clause.

Obama’s comments in Colorado, where he called on “every senator” to vote for new gun restrictions and cited high national public support for background checks, indicate he is still hoping to get federal restrictions in place. This hope, however, is getting dimmer. Colorado’s law did not contain an assault weapons ban many proponents want to see. And a federal gun bill proposed by Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nevada) has drawn significant criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union, which is concerned about the privacy of background-check records and the potential creation of a national gun registry.

The president’s trip comes at a time of increased scrutiny of his use of public time and resources. Obama’s long-overdue budget proposal still has not been delivered, and it is expected later this week. The extensive use of Air Force One for travel related to fundraising and promotion of pet projects that lawfully originate in the legislative branch comes as the entire government is struggling to comply with a reduction in the rate of spending increases mandated by last month’s sequester. Presidential travel arrangements are confidential, but Obama is expected to be in the Nutmeg State for less than three hours.