Many Democrats, and some Senate Republicans, believe the only legislation that has a whisper of a chance of passing would be bills that are tightly focused on more consensus elements like enhancing background checks or limits on magazines, subjected to debate in committee and then brought to a vote after building bipartisan support.[...]The division also reflects the fact that many Democrats, especially in rural districts and in the West, represent constituents who view most gun restrictions with suspicion and may, in fact, hold those views themselves. They have generally been strong advocates of gun rights and have received good ratings, and even campaign contributions, from the National Rifle Association.
Others, particularly those senators who have long fought for gun control measures, believe a plodding process allows too much time for opposition to build, and prefer to fast-track measures by adding them as amendments to other bills, even blocking bills in ways that have angered Democrats, until they are granted votes on those ideas.
“We can’t sit around for months talking and letting the gun lobby run out the clock,” said Senator Frank R. Lautenberg, Democrat of New Jersey. “If we’re going to make progress, it’s essential that we move quickly and start voting as soon as possible.”
This means they may back what polls show Americans overwhelmingly support—universal background checks and tougher controls on gun trafficking via straw-man purchases—but reject the proposed assault weapons ban that would proscribe military-style semi-automatic rifles and shotguns and perhaps the proposed 10-bullet limit on the capacity of detachable magazines.
The New York Times reports that campaign aides say the Obama for America organization will be transformed into an organization for Obama's agenda headed by the president's former campaign manager, Jim Messina. New gun restrictions would be only part of its operations, but they might provide a first test of how effective the new organization can be. First Lady Michelle Obama announced the new group, Organizing for Action, Friday.
Given that Speaker John Boehner has made clear the House will wait for the Senate to act on guns, one of the restructured OFA's first tasks is likely to be bringing public pressure to bear on reluctant Senate Democrats: Max Baucus and Jon Tester of Montana, Mark Begich of Alaska, Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich of New Mexico, Michael Bennet of Colorado, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Tim Johnson of South Dakota, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Mark Warner of Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Heitkamp, Landrieu and Manchin have made comments since the Newtown, Connecticut, massacre that pushed the gun restrictions into the spotlight that they will be hard sells. Obviously the organization will have its work cut out for it.