Schieffer: NRA the lobby most feared by Congress

(CBS News) The issue of gun control was barely mentioned during the presidential campaign. But is it possible that the Connecticut elementary school shooting could alter the political equation in Washington and prompt the first serious debate on guns in years?

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When President Obama made his remarks about the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, he was standing in the James S. Brady Briefing Room -- named after the former press secretary who was seriously wounded when a gunman opened fire on President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and whose name became synonymous with gun control.

The Brady Act requiring background checks was signed into law almost 20 years ago. The last significant national gun control legislation, the Assault Weapons Ban, expired in 2004.

"We're going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics," Mr. Obama said.

CBS News chief Washington correspondent Bob Schieffer has been following the gun control debate since the assassination of President Kennedy. He said he takes the president at his word, but he's very skeptical about what will be possible, given the power of the most prominent gun lobbying group, the National Rifle Association.

"This is going to be a very, very difficult thing to do," he said. "Congress is literally afraid to take on the National Rifle Association because they know that if they make any kind of statement [that] even suggests some sort of limits on gun control, the NRA is going to pour, literally, hundreds of thousands of dollars in a campaign to defeat them."

Schieffer, who also hosts "Face the Nation," said Republicans and Democrats are so reluctant to talk about the issue that he's had trouble booking them on his Sunday morning news show.

"We talk about the lobby in Washington, AARP, which represents [people] on Social Security, as a very powerful lobby; you have the various energy lobbies; you've seen all kind of lobbies spring up not to raise taxes.

"I think the National Rifle Association is more feared than any of those associations," Schieffer said.

To watch the full interview with Bob Schieffer, click on the video player above.

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