President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden will meet today with law enforcement groups and police chiefs from several communities impacted by mass shootings to discuss the administration's intensifying push to reduce gun violence.
The meeting will include representatives from the Major Cities Chiefs Association and the Major County Sheriffs Association, as well as police chiefs from Aurora, Colo., Oak Creek, Wis., and Newtown, Conn. Attorney General Eric Holder and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano will also attend.
The meeting marks the latest sign of action from the administration, which unveiled a raft of legislation and executive orders earlier this month and is pushing Congress to act swiftly to reduce gun violence.
The proposals, which include a nationwide background-check requirement for gun purchases, a ban on military-style semiautomatic weapons and a limit on the size of ammunition magazines, have drawn strong words from supporters and opponents alike.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., unveiled an assault weapons ban last week, and while she admitted it'll be "an uphill climb" to get the ban passed, she declared Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation" that "I think I can get it passed because the American people are very much for it," citing a new poll that showed "68 percent supportive of a ban on assault weapons."
Asked whether the ban would infringe on gun owners' Second Amendment rights, Feinstein, who successfully shepherded the original assault weapons ban through Congress in 1994, embraced the question: "Well, let me talk about rights for a moment. Does a child have a right to be safe in school? ...Do people going to movies have a right to be safe? You want to talk about rights, talk about the rights of the majority too."
Also on "Face the Nation," New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly praised Feinstein's bill as a step "in the right direction," but noted that handguns account for much more violence in his city than do assault rifles.
Former Republican House Speaker Newt Gingrich, however, disagreed strongly with proposals to strengthen gun laws, disputing the effectiveness of many of the president's proposed solutions.
"As the New York commissioner said, the overwhelming problem for him is handguns," he said. "The person who killed the most people at Virginia Tech used two pistols. The fact is every political attack from John F. Kennedy to the present has involved a weapon which would be legal under Senator Feinstein's law."
"There is a perennial desire," he argued, "to make the innocent have a more complicated life because of a handful who are the guilty, rather than focusing on the guilty."
Gingrich said that gun control proponents "ought to have the courage to look at facts, not create propaganda."
The former speaker was joined on "Face the Nation" by Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., who urged people not to "focus on whatever is the weapon," but to "get to the root cause. Look at some of these mental health issues. Look at some of these drugs that are involved in this. Look at some of the violence that is permeating this society...drill down on this a little deeper. Be a little more thoughtful on it."