Gun rights advocates are expressing concern over the Obama administration's plans for a new gun control push six months after the shooting in Tucson, Ariz., and they warn that attempts to curb gun rights could provoke a political fight.
Attorney Alan Gura, who successfully argued two recent Second Amendment cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, vowed to give intense scrutiny to any new initiative the president puts forward.
“The gun rights community is going to look very carefully at the Obama administration’s proposals, and anything that interferes with the Second Amendment right as it is being enforced today by the courts will be tested.”
Friday marked six months since the Tucson rampage that killed six and injured 13, including Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The White House noted Thursday that it is working on "common-sense measures" to improve public safety while protecting gun rights.
"That process is well under way at the Department of Justice with stakeholders on all sides working through these complex issues," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Thursday. "And we expect to have some more specific announcements in the near future."
Carney didn't say how soon those announcements would come, nor what they might entail. But it is expected that the president will take some type of “executive action” in the near future.
Obama wrote on the topic March 13 in an opinion piece in the Arizona Daily Star. Without taking sides in the debate, the president wrote of the failings of the country's gun control system, using Tucson shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner as his example.
"[O]ne clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun," he wrote of Loughner.
Obama laid out a centrist approach, appealing for common sense from both sides of the gun debate.
"Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word 'commonsense' isn't a code word for 'confiscation,'" the president wrote.
What remains unclear is just how far out on a limb the president is willing to go on gun control. If he goes too far, the Second Amendment debate could reach great heights as the president battles for his re-election. If he doesn't go far enough, some in his base may view him as weak on gun laws.
Dennis Henigan of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence says more than 6,000 people have been shot and killed in the U.S. since the Tucson tragedy, “So every day that passes without action, we unnecessarily lose innocent lives.”
Henigan worries that Washington doesn’t grasp the current threat. “I want the president to understand that,” Henigan urges, adding, “I want the Congress to understand that – that the American people are calling for action.”
That sentiment is echoed in a letter to the White House from more than 600 mayors from across the country, led by Boston’s Thomas Menino and New York City’s Michael Bloomberg. The letter warns that, absent intervention, another massacre could happen and calls on the president to show “leadership” on the issue of gun control.
Whatever direction the White House takes, the president emphasized that something has to be done, "None of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television."