Gun control is going to be at the top of President Obama’s agenda this year, and Missouri’s US Senators are divided on what to do about it.
Wednesday, Obama unveiled a package of executive orders and proposals intended to curb gun violence. After the announcement, he signed 23 executive orders on the spot. Some of the changes included reinstating the assault weapon ban that expired in 2004, closing the “gun show loophole” that allows some buyers to purchase guns without background checks, and finally hiring a director of the ATF (the position has been vacant since 2006 due to congressional blockage.) The proposals look like a near comprehensive wish list for gun control activists who have been stymied by lack of political will for decades. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence said in a statement Wednesday:
“We, at the Brady Campaign, are proud to have had the opportunity to share a comprehensive set of policy solutions with the White House Task Force and we are pleased to see our ideas reflected in the final recommendations.”
The New York Times has the full 23 point plan here. According to this nice roundup by the Daily Beast, a lot of what Obama wants, he can accomplish with executive orders. But the big ones, like the assault weapons ban, will require a tough fight with a GOP-dominated House. At the announcement Wednesday, Obama talked about the wide support he needs and even made a nod to red states, saying:
“I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it. And, by the way, that doesn’t just mean from certain parts of the country. We’re going to need voices in those areas, in those Congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong, to speak up and to say this is important. It can’t just be the usual suspects.”
If the president is looking for help in Missouri, it’s going to be a mixed bag. Senator Roy Blunt (R) has been vocally against gun control for some time and consistently receives an “A” grade from the NRA for his pro-gun voting record. In a press release after the presidential announcement, Blunt said:
"The president's proposals today fundamentally fail to address ways that we can prevent tragic events like Sandy Hook, and instead, he's attempting to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans.”
Less than a week after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut Blunt penned an op-ed on how better access to mental health care is the best way to prevent future tragedies. Senator McCaskill (D) is less vocal than Blunt but she has said that she supports services for the mentally ill. Three days after the Newtown shooting, McCaskill’s spokesperson said “Claire supports an assault weapons ban, and wants to take a hard look at the number of rounds in magazines.”