LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — With President Obama leading the chorus, the voices in favor of stricter gun control laws got louder across America Wednesday — and those voices were largely coming from California.
Reporting for CBS2 and KCAL9, political reporter Dave Bryan said despite the shift in public opinion getting those tougher laws passed may not be easy.
While the public sentiment on gun control has been rather seismic with the general public, Bryan reports the dynamic in Washington hasn’t changed that much. Yet.
With Democrats now turning up the heat for change — and with the president appointing Vice President Joe Biden to head a steering committee to look the issue of gun violence — Republicans might have no other choice but to join that chorus calling for action.
At a press conference Wednesday, President Obama said, “the fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing.”
The president and Congress were accused of giving gun control short shrift — even after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords — one of their own — as well as the murder of 12 people at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado in July.
Today, the president said enough is enough. “I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this.”
Biden, who worked with Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the 1994 national assault weapons ban — now expired — and his committee, were charged with coming up with specific recommendations by January.
Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) said, “This is the time we need to do something. I think if we can’t do it now, I’m not sure we can ever do it.”
Like almost every Democratic congressperson from California, Hahn, who spoke to CBS2 and KCAL9 by satellite from Washington DC, supports the President’s gun control plan, but she acknowledges that so far, the Democrats are going it alone. “We don’t have any Republican co-sponsors yet, but you know I’m going to reach out to my Republican friends.”
The fact is without some Republican support, gun control supporters in the House can’t win.
Hahn acknowledged that in these days of Washington polarization, California Democrats and Republicans in Congress have no relationship at all. “The California delegation was a surprise to me,” she says, “we don’t even hardly get together, even on social terms.”
Some Republicans in the House, like Dennis Baxley of Florida, sound skeptical about tightening gun laws. Baxley says, “In our meaningful effort to try to protect children with gun-free zones, that we have unintentionally created a sterile target for this type of activity.
Congressman Baxley is one of the few Republicans who’s publicly speaking out on this issue, preferring to wait a few days in the hopes that things will settle down.
The National Rifle Association says it will break its silence on the issue on Friday, when it will outline its ideas about how to stop the mass killings that have rocked the country.
But in a general sense, pro-gun members of Congress have pointed out stricter gun laws alone will not prevent more gun violence in the future and may, in fact, make it more difficult for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves.