Feinstein's gun proposal and what's feasible


Thursday Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., announced she was introducing a new version of her 1994 assault weapons ban. At the announcement she said, "Getting this bill signed into law will be an uphill battle, and I recognize that - but it is a battle worth having." I certainly agree with her that it will be an uphill fight, and while I'm not sure this specific piece of legislation will pass, I am sure some kind of gun control legislation will pass before this session of Congress is over.

I'm confident of that because I really do think the tragedy in Newtown, Conn., changed the national mood. I think it was a tipping point of sorts. Now good people on all sides of this issue are looking for some way to make sure it doesn't happen again. And, polling shows there's at least widespread agreement on the idea of things like universal background checks.

The best time to get things like gun control through are when the national mood is leaning toward them, and I think that's what we're seeing now. When people in the states and the grassroots start talking about something and demanding something, there's a good chance Congress will have to address that.

And I think the administration acknowledges not only the symbolic power of the grassroots movement, I think they acknowledge the practical necessity of buy-in from local groups and the grassroots. With things like the Vice President's Commission, the administration is signaling that they know if they want to get something meaningful done, it's going to have to be largely thanks to help from grassroots pressure and support from organizations across the country.

I keep using this example, but that's because I think it's a good one: look at what the group Mothers Against Drunk Driving managed to do. I think that organization's success could be a model for gun control advocates.

I'm really looking forward to talking to Sen. Feinstein about her legislation and what she sees as its path forward. She fought a similar fight in 1994, but a lot has changed in Congress since then. What is her plan to get it passed -especially when she's got opposition from within her own party in the Senate? Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., might even be an obstacle for Feinstein's bill because he comes from a very gun-friendly state, and has to help at least five Democrats from other big gun states up for reelection in 2014

I'll also talk to New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. It's not often we talk to Police chiefs on our show, but I think it's important to get the perspective of someone who's actually out on the streets fighting violence of all types every day. What type of legislation could help him immediately? What are the things his men could enforce?

Then we'll turn to Newt Gingrich and Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., for their take on the gun control debate. Rep. Blackburn released a statement saying she's concerned the President's approach is "a pre-determined attempt to redefine our Constitution." Will she consider any types of gun control? Gingrich also raised the Second Amendment rallying cry on Thursday night in an interview on CNN where he said, "We actually think that the Second Amendment is central to our liberties - not just something there for hunters, not something there for target practice."

Gingrich also made some news giving a speech at the Republican National Committee's winter meeting this week. He said his party needs to "learn to be a happy party." What did he mean by that, and what other advice did he have?

In addition to Gingrich, we'll be joined by two other people who were staples of our pre-election coverage: former Romney Senior Adviser Kevin Madden and Obama deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter.

And, a look at all of that and some of the other news this week, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's announcement allowing women in combat zones, with the New York Times' David Sanger and the Washington Post's David Ignatius.