Gun control advocates said Wednesday that President Barack Obama’s proposal to reduce gun violence was “unprecedented in its scope and complexity.”
Following recommendations made by Vice President Joe Biden’s task force — charged with proposing new gun legislation following last month’s mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary — the president urged Congress to reinstate the assault weapons ban, require universal background checks on gun sales, and put a 10-round limit on gun magazines.
“We’re really happy with it,” Matt Bennett, of Third Way, told BuzzFeed after Obama’s announcement. “He really struck a balance between having a plan that is bold and to scale and agressive, and one that respects the second amendement — it’s the sweet spot we were hoping for.”
Bennett compared the scale of Obama’s proposal to the Gun Control Act of 1968, which prevented convicted criminals and mentally ill from purchasing guns, and the Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act of 1993, which put background checks in place on gun sales.
“It’s really unprecedented in its scope and complexity. It’s on the level of the other two big gun safety movements we’ve seen in 1968 and 1993,” he said.
Whether or not the Obama administration will be able to put into law legislation comprobable to the Gun Control Act or Brady Act will depend largely on Congress.
“I don’t think anybody thinks Obama will get everything he’s asked for,” said Bennett, adding that Democrat-controlled Congresses in 1968 and 1993 helped the success of both past gun control bills.
“It’s a start — there’s no question the administration’s gonna do a lot more. But the president is doing what he’s supposed to and telling Congress they need to get their act together,” he added.
Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, was similarly pleased with Obama’s proposal.
“The Brady Campaign stands with the president and vice president in supporting these comprehensive policy recommendations to address gun violence,” he said in a statement Wednesday. “The White House has shown tremendous leadership in convening stakeholders and engaging the country in a conversation.”
Both the Brady Campaign and Third Way were involved in talks with Vice President Biden’s gun control task force.
Jonathan Cowan, Third Way president, added that the package “shows his genuine respect for the Second Amendment rights of law abiding Americans.”
“There’s a whole bunch of things in in his plan that were sensitive to the needs of gun owners,” Bennett told BuzzFeed. “There was nothing about waiting periods, federal licenses and registration of gun owners — these are the things that alarm people who are eager to see Second Amendment rights preserved.”
The president also signed 23 “executive actions” directly following his remarks. Most prevalent among them was the nomination of Todd Jones for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tabacco, Firearms Explosives, which has not had a confirmed director in six years.
“None of them are enormous,” said Bennett of the actions. “They’re necessary but not sufficient. Had they been enormous he would have done them already.”
But in full, gun control advocates seem poised to stand fully behind the president and vice president on their proposals.
“We’re usually grumpy about things — we’re hard to please over here sometimes,” said Bennett. “But this covered all the bases we were hoping for.”
- Tom Perez has been named chair of the Democratic National Committee. He was Obama's Labor Secretary.