Vice President Biden told House Democrats who attended a White House meeting on gun control measures on Monday that the Obama administration intended to mobilize the grassroots operation left over from the 2012 presidential campaign to help push for the gun-related measures it would unveil Wednesday, according to Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, who participated in the meeting.
The New York Democrat suggested that President Obama should take a page from former President Bill Clinton and wage a national campaign to enlist public support for new gun control measures.
McCarthy didn't know the specifics of what the White House would unveil, or how far the President would go to press Congress to pass an assault weapons ban, saying it was up to the president how aggressive he would be to get proposals passed. "You've got to remember what the president wants and what we can get passed here, and what the Senate can pass are things that we're hoping can make a difference and save lives."
The House Democratic Task Force on Gun Violence, which McCarthy sits on, is scheduled to meet with the National Rifle Association next week.
Chris Cox will be representing the NRA at the meeting, McCarthy said, and told reporters that meeting follows a series of session, including outreach to pro-gun Democrats, and sportsmen groups. The House group, chaired by California Democrat Mike Thompson, will release its recommendations in early February and push for votes in Congress by the spring.
McCarthy expressed pessimism about the chances of getting an assault ban passed in Congress, telling reporters outside the House chamber, "We're not going to get an outright ban." But then later added "I think we should try for it absolutely" and pledged she was committed to enacting a full ban on assault weapons, arguing that public opinion had shifted in favor of one.
"If I see that even here [in Congress] and even the President will push for the assault weapons ban - again the polls are showing overwhelming support for it, but if we cant lift it to get it done than hopefully we'll go for the larger magazines."
Asked about Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid's comment suggesting there aren't the votes for an assault ban in the House, McCarthy stressed that the top Senate Democrat was only referring to the assault ban, and said, "I think he could pass a package -- without the ban, and I think he thinks that too, but let's play it out."
McCarthy said some House Republicans have told her privately that they are considering supporting some new gun restrictions. She declined to indentify which members of how many, but said she advised them to publicly announce their support for any new gun legislation separate from Democratic efforts. "Do your own press conference, come out as a group, there's power in numbers, and we [Democrats] should have nothing to do with that."