With Democrats split and Republicans opposed, chances of the Congress considering any gun legislation targeted at minimizing the toll of shootings such as the one in Aurora, Colo., last week appear virtually nonexistent.
And with the White House saying that President Barack Obama would look to enforce only existing laws to address gun violence, Republicans saw a rare space of agreement with their perpetual foe.
On Sunday, as the president was on Air Force One en route to Colorado to meet with victims of the shooting and their families, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters in a gaggle that, “The president’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now,” according to the White House transcript.
A senior Republican House aide said the White House is taking the right approach.
“We agree with the White House now is not the time for political gain,” the aide said.
But some Democrats saw that statement as taking the urgency out of any legislative push.
“With Carney saying that Obama was not going to push anything, it took the wind out of [everyone’s] sails,” a Senate Democratic aide said.
On Monday, House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy downplayed any effort to move immediately on legislation or an investigation.
“I think we should get all the facts before we move anything. Not from emotion, because you want to make sure it’s done right,” the California Republican said. “Policy is always better when you study and shoot for a solution, rather than shoot for a political answer. Knowing what political nature we’re in right now and knowing we’re coming after just the weekend [after the shooting occurred], I’d like to focus on the families first, but I’d like to have all the facts before we move legislation.”
Nevertheless, Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) is hopeful that the tragic events will spark a conversation in the chamber that he believes is overdue after the latest incident, the January 2011 shooting of then-Rep. Gabrielle Giffords that left six dead and 13 injured, as well as other recent shootings such as the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., takes a selfie with his cut-out head during the Hoops for Youth 16th annual charity basketball game held at George Washington University's Smith Center, September 8, 2014. The members of Congress team beat the lobbyist team 46-40. Buy photo here.