Former GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich told Newsmax on Monday that Senate Democrats can thank President Barack Obama if they cannot muster the 60 votes needed to break a promised Republican filibuster on gun-control legislation scheduled to be introduced later this month.
“No one has done more for gun ownership than Barack Obama,” the former House Speaker told Newsmax. “If you look at the number of people who have bought guns since he became president, he has been the most successful salesman for people having the right to bear arms in modern history.”
Despite intense lobbying by the White House, many Democrats are uneasy about pledging to break the gun-control filibuster that was promised last week by GOP Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah, Ted Cruz of Texas, and Marco Rubio of Florida.
Gun Control: Was Harry Reid right to Reject It?
Many of those skittish Democrats are among the 21 facing re-election next year from red states where the National Rifle Association has a strong presence.
The NRA has long opposed background checks as a violation of the Second Amendment.
The senators include, according to Talking Points Memo, Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, and Max Baucus of Montana.
The Democrats, along with 10 Republicans, have been targeted by a $12 million advertising campaign by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. The group supports expanded background checks.
“There’s a huge number of people in every Democratic Senate race in 2014 who care about the right to bear arms,” Gingrich told Newsmax. “What they’ve done in part was set up the fight where they’re asking Democrats from states where the right to bear arms is a big issue to go on the record for cutting off the filibuster, which would be a very unpopular thing for them to do.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada has pledged to bring gun-control legislation to the Senate floor, while Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont — chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — has said that he would bring forth a bill after Congress returned from recess later this month.
Either way, the Democrats are in a tough predicament, according to Talking Points Memo. If background checks make it through the Senate, they’d still have to pass the Republican-controlled House of Representatives. That’s not likely to happen.
In addition, if they still passed, there’s other fallout: vulnerable Democrats would be targeted by the NRA.
And, should the legislation fail, Democrats will most likely enrage their liberal base, which is demanding significant action on firearms, according to TPM.
“They certainly won’t win on any kind of very strict rule,” said Gingrich, referring to Senate Democrats. “They may get one or two small things that they can claim as a public relations victory, but the continuous desire of liberals to disarm the American people will be frustrated once again.”
Meanwhile, Sen. Jim Inhofe said on Monday that Senate Republicans have enough votes — 53 — to filibuster any gun-control legislation brought to the floor.
“We know in the Senate that we have 53 votes to stop any effort at gun control,” the Oklahoma Republican told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“It’s pretty strong. We’re saying that we’re not going to accept gun control in the United States Senate. We have 53 senators saying that right now.”
Inhofe said that background checks are not a factor as far as criminals are concerned — and that law-abiding citizens would be affected the most by any new legislation.
“You can get a weapon from someone who has a clean background,” he told CNN. “Offer him a hundred dollars to get a weapon for you.
“But there’s one fallacy that I see in every gun-control bill: There is this assumption that the criminal element will somehow obey that particular law,” Inhofe added. “We know that is not going to be the case. I haven’t seen any of that work.
“I just don’t believe that you’re going to have a background check that’s going to have a diminishing effect on the availability of handguns or any other type of guns,” he said.
Gingrich, meanwhile, said that legislators’ efforts would be better spent examining the mental-health issues surrounding gun use and other societal factors.
“Far more people are killed, for example, by pistols than by assault weapons,” the Georgia Republican told Newsmax. “So why isn’t the Left as worried about young men being killed by pistols than assault weapons?”
He cited the record 500 murders — 435 from guns — last year in President Obama’s hometown of Chicago. “It seems that should be a major issue to explore why the president’s home city has so much violence.
“That’s not an issue of the weapon being used. It’s an issue of what’s happening in that culture that would lead so many people to think that violence is a reasonable behavior,” Gingrich said.
“Having some thought-based hearings would actually be very beneficial for the American people and might lead us to some new strategies and new approaches, rather than going down the same old ideological gun-control fight.”
And conservative radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh cited the Chicago statistics in his attack on the upcoming Capitol Hill debate.
“They've got plenty of laws that they could prosecute these people on,” Limbaugh said on Monday on his afternoon show. “They somehow want to create the impression that there aren't enough laws to deal with this level of crime.
Gun Control: Was Harry Reid right to Reject It?
“Now, clearly, the law is not the problem with this level of crime in Chicago. No law ever stopped anything by virtue of its existence alone. We've got laws against murder. Still happens. We've got laws against robbing banks. Still happens. The law is a moral marker. It's a guardrail. It's how a society defines right and wrong, in many ways.
“But they don't enforce themselves,” Limbaugh added. “The regime wants you to think that the law isn't powerful enough.
“The push for new gun laws is not about guns. It's about bigger government. It's about taking over more and more control of people's lives. It is about guns, because ultimately the government would like to take from you as many of your guns as they could.”
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