Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) said the proposals amount to a “power grab.”
“I will fight any legislation that further restricts qualified owners’ access to guns. I am also against the president using executive orders to circumvent the will of the people and infringe on the constitutional rights of my constituents,” Barton said. “This right is put in jeopardy by the stricter control measures proposed today by the president.”
Rep. Bob Gibbs (R-Ohio) said the gun-control push in the wake of Newtown “demeans the memories of those innocent lives that were so tragically taken.”
“More gun restrictions may allow Washington to congratulate itself, but will never change the sickness and depravity that drive someone to murder indiscriminately. Instead, let’s look to our communities, our churches, our doctors, and our families: the institutions that do have the power to solve the problem,” said Rep. Steve Pearce (R-N.M.).
Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) accused Obama of trying to “legislate through emotion.”
“The right of the people to defend themselves against tyranny is the reason for the Second Amendment,” he said. “We cannot disarm all law-abiding Americans in an attempt to preempt a deranged individual.”
Republican Study Committee Chairman Steve Scalise (R-La.) slammed the president’s pressure on doctors to get involved in gun control.
“Any attempt by President Obama to take away the gun rights of law-abiding Americans will be met with strong bipartisan opposition in Congress,” Scalise said. ”President Obama has no business interjecting himself in the doctor-patient relationship by pressuring medical professionals to ask their patients what kind of guns they own in their homes. President Obama’s latest executive orders give new meaning to the term ‘house call.’”
“Without specific legislative language, it is impossible to evaluate the potential consequences of the president’s proposals,” said Senate Judiciary Committee member Mike Lee (R-Utah). “But I am deeply concerned that the president’s approach is inconsistent with fundamental Second Amendment rights and encroaches on the authorities of state and local governments.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reminded the president that attempts to reinstate the assault weapons ban have already failed.
He also predicted bipartisan opposition to the president’s proposal.
“One bullet in the hands of a homicidal maniac is one too many. But in the case of a young mother defending her children against a home invader — a real-life event which recently occurred near Atlanta — six bullets may not be enough,” Graham said. “Criminals aren’t going to follow legislation limiting magazine capacity. However, a limit could put law-abiding citizens at a distinct disadvantage when confronting a criminal.”
Some Blue Dog Democrats sided with the GOP; c0-chairman of the coalition, Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.), said the president needs to focus on enforcing existing laws.
“But I strongly disagree with proposals that would deny law-abiding citizens their Second Amendment rights,” he said.
After weeks of preparation for this day, canvassing cable shows promoting gun-control measures and taking the public’s temperature on such proposals post-Newtown, most Democrats indicated they’re willing to run with Obama’s proposals on the Hill.
“I applaud President Obama’s bold leadership in putting forth a package of common sense gun safety measures to help reduce the scourge of gun violence and protect our communities and children,” said Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.). “For too long, members of Congress have turned their backs on measures to prevent gun violence as the NRA turned up the heat to protect gun manufacturers. This time must be different.”
“Like most responsible gun owners, I support the 2nd Amendment, and I also support common sense measures to make our nation safer,” said Rep. Wm. Lacy Clay (D-Mo.). “For many years, I have supported a renewal of the assault weapons ban, a ban on high-capacity magazine clips, universal background checks for all gun purchases and ending online sales of firearms and ammunition.”
“I support our police agencies, who have implored us to make these changes,” said Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.).
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said the president’s proposals “reflect a series of clear and concrete steps in the effort to rein in, reduce, and prevent gun violence in our country.”
“The president’s executive actions are critical to our response; they are necessary; but, as the president said, they are not sufficient,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who unsuccessfully sought an NRA endorsement in 2010, was more muted in his reaction and didn’t ensure anything would pass.
“I thank the president’s task force for its thoughtful recommendations. I am committed to ensuring that the Senate will consider legislation that addresses gun violence and other aspects of violence in our society early this year,” Reid said in a brief statement.
But new North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), on a local TV station Tuesday, called the White House’s push “wrong-headed.”
“There isn’t any amount of gun regulation or gun executive orders that will solve the problem of identifying people who could potentially do this and making sure they get the help and their families get the help so they don’t do this,” Heitkamp said. “I think it is an agenda driven by something other than school shootings.”
That echoes Heitkamp’s earlier assessment of the administration’s gun-control push, in a Jan. 6 appearance on ABC’s This Week.
“I think you need to put everything on the table, but what I hear from the administration — and if the Washington Post is to be believed — that’s way, way in extreme of what I think is necessary or even should be talked about,” the Democratic senator said. “And it’s not going to pass.”