Continuing his drive to rein in gun violence across the country, President Obama today will visit Minneapolis, a city the White House lauds for having taken "important steps" toward reducing gun crimes.
The president will deliver remarks to local leaders and law enforcement officials about his "comprehensive set of commonsense ideas to reduce gun violence," according to the White House, before meeting with members of the community to discuss their experiences with gun violence, as well as further action that can be taken at the federal level.
Since Mr. Obama undraped a multi-part package of proposals two weeks ago to help tackle the nation's escalating gun violence problem, lawmakers have been scrambling to answer what has largely been a national cry for help following December's massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school. Earlier this week, the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony from those lobbying both for and against tighter gun laws, featuring star witnesses Mark Kelly - husband of
former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who survived a shot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead - and National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre.
Despite some early resistance from the right, the president this week said in an interview with Univision he has "no doubt" he can usher gun control legislation through the hoops of Congress by year's end. Appearing on ABC's "This Week" Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., agreed he wants to "get something done on guns," including a universal background check, but turned lukewarm on other pillars of Mr. Obama's plan, such as a limit on high-capacity magazine clips and a reinstatement of the assault weapons ban.
Pointing out that he didn't vote for the assault weapons ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 because "it didn't make sense," Reid said he didn't know whether he would support its heir, introduced in the Senate recently by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who also sponsored the last ban. "Let's see what [the bill] is," he said.
"Let me give you a little background," Reid offered. "I had guns from the time I was a little boy. I don't hunt anymore, but I did. I've got lots of guns - I keep them for sentimental reasons," he continued. "But I'm a police officer, right over here is my badge. I was a police officer. I carried a gun. That's what I did to put myself through law school. My dad killed himself, shot himself with a gun, committed suicide.
"So I know a lot about guns," he concluded. "And there are things that I think we need to do."
LaPierre, meanwhile, with whom Reid said he has a "good relationship," in an appearance on "Fox News Sunday" came out strongest against the one piece of reform Reid is actively pushing: a universal background check.
"I think what they'll do is they'll turn this universal check on the law-abiding into a universal registry on law-abiding people," LaPierre said. "'Obamacare' wasn't a tax until they needed it to be a tax. I don't think you can trust these people."
LaPierre said he's "been in this fight for 20 years," with the NRA having initially proposed a comprehensive background check. But unable to surmount federal laws restricting access to someone's mental health records that could signify whether that person poses a threat, he said, he changed his mind on the issue. Additionally, he argued, "the criminals are never going to comply with it; they could care less. ...It's a fraud to call it universal."
Kelly, also appearing on the program, advised LaPierre to "listen to his membership." Seventy-four percent of NRA members consider a universal background check "very reasonable," said Kelly, who also made the case for an assault weapons ban and limit to high-capacity magazines.