Schumer, McCain say gun control bills will return

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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The Senate will try again to pass recently defeated gun control legislation, and will be aided by increasing activism from previously neutral voters, Sen. Chuck Schumer predicted today at a press conference.

“I think we will bring the bill back before the end of the year… lots of Senators who thought it was safe to vote against it [April 17] because of the intensity [of gun-rights supporters] are not so sure any more,” Schumer told reporters at an April breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

“I do agree with Chuck that I think the issue will come back,” said Sen. John McCain, who supported an amendment to expand background checks during an April 17 vote.

The amendment failed to get the needed 60 votes to overcome a filibuster, and failed 54 to 46.

It was a critical defeat for President Obama, whose top three legislative issues for 2013 are gun control, an overhaul of immigration laws and a budget deal that includes a major tax increase.

The April 17 vote shielded several Democratic Senators from likely opposition by gun-rights supporters in the 2014 election, but it also allowed the Democrats’ leader, Sen. Harry Reid, to bring the issue back for another vote.

Schumer told reporters that the intensity of public support for gun control is increasing.

“I think we’re at a turning point… I think the numbers are getting a little more intense,” he claimed.

In a recent tour of conservative areas of New York state, “I heard from people who said ‘Keep at it,’ and I never heard from those folks before.”

Obama’s Organizing for America is using some of the staff, data and techniques form Obama’s high-tech 2012 campaign to build public support for gun control.

The rising intensity, Schumer said, is offsetting the passionate involvement of gun-rights supporters.

In the early 1990s, a previous wave of public support for gun control overcame opposition from the National Rifle Association, he said. “The middle rose and said, ‘we want rational laws on guns.’ Why? Because crime was ripping apart America,” he said.

However, he noted, the Democrats immediately lost control of the House and Senate in1994 amid protests from gun-rights activists. “Rightly or wrongly, those two bills were blamed for the Democrats losing control of the House and Senate … [so] nothing happened for 20 years,” he said.

McCain predicted the gun issue would brought up again by Reid, and said that Senators are not doing enough to keep guns away from “crazy people.”

“Second-amendment defenders” are very active, McCain said, adding that “the “toughest part of the issue [is] where do individual rights end, and the obligation to protect the community begins.”

The April 17 amendment backed by McCain, which was drafted by West Virginia Democratic Senator Joe Manchin and Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey, would have expanded federal background checks on people trying to buy firearms.

The measure was the only portion of a larger gun control effort pushed by Obama after the Dec. 14 massacre of 20 children and 6 adults at a school in Connecticut.

After the vote, a visibly angry Obama appeared in the Rose Garden to blame gun-rights activists for the defeat.

“To change Washington, you, the American people will have to sustain some passion about this, and when necessary, you have to send the right people to Washington, and that requires strength and persistence and that’s one thing these families should have inspired in al of us,” he said.

Since then, Obama’s Organizing for America has slammed GOP Senators for voting against new gun control laws.

Many GOP politicians believe Obama is using the gun-issue — plus budgetary and immigration issues — to spur pro-Democratic turnout by swing-voting suburbanites in the 2014 midterm elections.

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