President Barack Obama’s sweeping gun control package faces an uncertain future on Capitol Hill. Republicans dominating the House are rejecting his proposals while Obama’s allies in the Democratic-controlled Senate are stopping well short of pledging immediate action.
The fate of Obama’s plan could ultimately hinge on a handful of moderate Democratic senators. Although they are unlikely to endorse the president’s call for banning assault weapons, they might go along with other proposals, such as requiring universal background checks on gun purchases.
Several of these senators responded warily after Obama unveiled his proposals Wednesday with the challenge that “Congress must act soon.”
On Wednesday, President Obama urged a reluctant Congress to require background checks for all gun sales and ban both military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
But, in his emotion-laden plea to curb gun violence in America, he conceded “this will be difficult.”
The president’s sweeping, $500 million plan, coming one month after the school massacre in Connecticut, marks the most comprehensive effort to tighten gun laws in nearly two decades.
Seeking to circumvent at least some opposition, Obama signed 23 executive actions on Wednesday, including orders to make more federal data available for background checks and end a freeze on government research on gun violence. But he acknowledged that the steps he took on his own would have less impact than the broad measures requiring approval from Capitol Hill.
Speaking at a White House ceremony with school children and their parents Obama said, “To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act.” And he said “Congress must act soon.”