Emanuel said the administration can build support on Capitol Hill if it enlists law enforcement officers as advocates and focuses its messaging on the most dangerous kinds of guns and high-capacity ammunition magazines.
The legislative process, he advised, must start in the Democrat-led Senate. If the Senate passes a gun law overhaul, he said, the Republican-led House would face intense political pressure to take up the measure. “Whatever you do, start in the Senate,” he said.
Emanuel also suggested that Obama use his executive authority not only to make policy changes administratively but also as a bargaining chip to persuade Congress to pass legislation that makes more-sweeping changes.
“Congress never likes the president doing something that they think they have the authority for,” Emanuel said, noting that one possible step would be for the president to ask the Justice Department to place more emphasis on the prosecution of gun crimes. “So if you want to spur [lawmakers], start taking some of the real estate. It will get them moving quicker.”
Obama said Monday that executive orders are on the table, and he provided a hint about the White House’s messaging in the weeks ahead by discounting gun rights groups’ claims that he intends to infringe on Americans’ Second Amendment rights.
“If you look over the first four years of my administration, we’ve tried to tighten up and enforce some of the laws that were already on the books,” Obama said. “But it’d be pretty hard to argue that somehow gun owners have had their rights infringed.”
Former Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., candidate for U.S. Senate in New Hampshire, holds his hand over his heart during the singing of the national anthem as he waits to take the stage for his town hall campaign rally with Sen. John McCain at the Pinkerton Academy in Derry, N.H., on Monday, Aug. 18, 2014.