McCarthy and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D) of New Jersey offered a bill that would ban the clips that hold large volumes of ammunition. The pugnacious McCarthy said that if the administration continued to stay on the sidelines, she and Lautenberg would get the job done themselves, but added that she “certainly had higher hopes with the administration.”
Lautenberg attempted to express optimism. The senator recalled that Attorney General Eric Holder visited him on March 29 “and tried to give us his assurance to help us with the legislation.”
During his campaign, Obama supported reintroducing the lapsed assault weapon ban, promised to eliminate an amendment requiring the FBI to destroy records of gun buyers’ background checks and advocated closing the gun-show loophole. Since taking office, the president has done none of that, and before the midterm elections, he shelved a proposal requiring gun dealers to report bulk sales of high-powered semiautomatic rifles. In his State of the Union address, just weeks after the Giffords shooting in January, Obama made no mention of guns.
On March 13, the president wrote an Arizona Daily Star opinion piece that suggested his support for closing the gun-show loophole but made no mention of restricting large clips.
Other leading Democrats, even those traditionally willing to offer full-throated support for gun-control efforts, have grown surprisingly less vocal as they take on more of a national role. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a Florida Democrat and close friend of Giffords’s, is moving up to become the Democratic National Committee chairman. She declined to comment.
On March 30, the 30th anniversary of the assassination attempt on President Ronald Reagan, Jim Brady, who sustained a debilitating head wound in the attack, and his wife, Sarah, came to Capitol Hill to push for a ban on the controversial “large magazines.” Brady, for whom the law requiring background checks on handgun purchasers is named, then met with White House press secretary Jay Carney. During the meeting, President Obama dropped in and, according to Sarah Brady, brought up the issue of gun control, “to fill us in that it was very much on his agenda,” she said.
“I just want you to know that we are working on it,” Brady recalled the president telling them. “We have to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”
In the meeting, she said, Obama discussed how records get into the system and what can be done about firearms retailers. Her husband specifically brought up the proposed ban on large magazine clips, and she noted that even former vice president Dick Cheney had suggested that some restrictions on the clips might make sense.
“He just laughed,” Sarah Brady said approvingly of the president. Both she and her husband, she emphasized, had absolute confidence that the president was committed to regulation.
In simpler, pre-administration times, so was the president’s point man. In Croley’s book, he argued that for all the healthy skepticism, in a complex world, regulation still amounted to “the least-worst solution to pressing social problems.”