Social media, outreach part of Obama gun-law campaign
President Barack Obama will introduce a package of proposed laws and executive orders about gun control on Wednesday, as the debate over the Second Amendment heads to Congress.
Some details are out about the announcement, as well as the grassroots plans to get lawmakers opposed to the measures to change their minds.
The president asked his vice president, Joe Biden, to head a task force about gun laws after the Sandy Hook shootings in Connecticut.
Biden had been expected to come back with recommendations in late January, but the process is moving quickly as the nation debates restrictions on gun ownership and use.
While little has been said about the details of the announcement, tentatively set for 11:45 a.m. ET, it’s hard to keep a secret in Washington, and some major news outlets have put out the nuts and bolts of the measures the president will introduce.
The biggest piece of the gun-control package will center on legislation that President Obama will introduce to Congress through its Democratic leaders.
The Democrats will work on legislation that will reintroduce a ban on assault weapons, with the addition of restrictions on high-capacity magazine clips. Another piece of legislation will ask Congress to expand background checks on prospective gun owners.
White House press secretary Jay Carney confirmed those three measures on Tuesday and some additional details about the event.
“Tomorrow the president and the vice president will hold an event here at the White House to unveil a package of concrete proposals to reduce gun violence and prevent future tragedies like the one in Newtown, Connecticut,” Carney said. “They will be joined by children from around the country who wrote the president letters in the wake of that tragedy expressing their concerns about gun violence and school safety, along with their parents.”
In addition, President Obama will present up to 19 executive orders he can take without congressional approvals. Vice President Biden revealed those measures earlier this week, but not in great detail.
Under his constitutional executive powers, the president will seek to make sure gun laws on the books are more strictly enforced. He can also ask for harsher prosecution of gun-related crimes, expand the use of databases to track gun ownership, and spend more money on research.
A Democrat representative at a meeting on the executive powers issue told Politico that the president was prepared to use the social media and Internet machine that was so effective in his re-election campaign to influence public opinion about the proposed measures.
That program used Facebook and a marketing database to contact people, at a street level, as advocates for influencing friends and families.
It remains to be seen if such an effort can change the opinions of many people who have already decided how they feel about the issue of gun control, especially lawmakers.
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The current Senate leader, Harry Reid, has already said the assault weapons ban won’t likely pass Congress because of opposition in the House. There are also Democrats in the Senate and House who oppose gun-control measures.
The Washington Post says the Obama outreach campaign will extend to the grassroots level, and include a coalition of political, religious and law enforcement officials, who will interact with voters in an attempt to influence lawmakers.
The Post said the campaign could target some Democrats who have been resistant. Last week, a gun-control group ran an attack ad against newly elected Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, after the Democrat said she doubted the proposed laws would pass Congress.