Two freshmen U.S. Senators, one Democrat and another a Republican have come out against what many believe will be an aggressive White House position on gun control.
North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, one of the new freshmen on Capitol Hill, appeared on "This Week with George Stephanopoulos" on Sunday and expressed concern that President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden may propose gun control measures that are too rigid for most Americans and that go beyond assault weapons or smaller magazine clips.
"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. And it's not going to pass," Heitkamp said on ABC News's "This Week With George Stephanopoulos."
Heitkamp, a former attorney general in North Dakota, was given an "A" rating by the National Rifle Association during her campaign and represents a state known for their support of gun rights. She suggested before any restrictions are placed on guns that the issue of mental health and how to restrict such individuals from having or possessing guns be first on the president's to-do list.
"Let's start addressing the problem. And to me, one of the issues that I think comes – screams out of this is the issue of mental health and the care for the mentally ill in our country, especially the dangerously mentally ill. And so we need to have a broad discussion before we start talking about gun control," Heitkamp said.
One of the GOP's new and rising stars of the senate, Ted Cruz of Texas, indicated that some of the gun control measures being thrown about may run afoul of the Constitution, but that strengthening the government's background check for gun owners would be worthy of consideration.
"Are there things we can do? Sure. One of the things we could do is we could improve the quality of the federal database," Cruz said in an interview on "Fox News Sunday." "Right now a lot of states, a lot of local jurisdictions, are not reporting criminal convictions, not reporting mental health barriers to ownership. And so the federal database is not nearly as good as it should be. That would be a common-sense improvement."
The Tea Party backed-Texas senator's pragmatic approach to dealing with gun control may not be enough for his colleagues such as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) and Obama who seem intent on taking on the NRA and gun owners in general.
"Within minutes, we saw politicians run out and try to exploit this tragedy, try to push their political agenda of gun control," Cruz said, referring to the Newtown shooting. "I do not support their gun control agenda."
Both Heitkamp and Cruz may have good reason to be worried.
Sources in the White House have told The Washington Post that Obama is weighing a gun control agenda that goes far beyond a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition.
One strategy apparently being discussed is to get support from high-volume retailers such as Wal-Mart and others that would commit to working with the White House to make acquiring firearms at gun shows more difficult. This would most likely help retailers sell more guns and thus help their bottom lines.
The same sources also indicated that New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg – a staunch and long-time supporter of gun control – would be advising Biden and his task force on strategies to counter any opposition from the NRA.
"They are very clearly committed to looking at this issue comprehensively," Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, who has been involved in the discussions, told reporters.
Gross also added that the proposals under consideration are "a deeper exploration than just the assault-weapons ban."
NRA officials have refused to address the issues Biden and his group will be discussing, but do plan to move forward with their own agenda of advocating that every school in America have police officers or armed security in the buildings and on school grounds.
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