Gun Control Fight in Focus for President Obama

The president tries to build political momentum on gun control

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2013 -- With the Senate returning from a two-week recess, the Obama administration is gearing up for an all-out push this week to get lawmakers to take action on gun control.

President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Michelle Obama all have events scheduled this week to advocate for the administration's gun proposals, but even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., moved a comprehensive gun package to the calendar for the Senate to consider in April, it is not clear whether Republicans will let the measure come to a vote.

Obama is scheduled to push for gun control Monday at the University of Hartford, just 50 miles north of Sandy Hook Elementary School, where 20 children and six educators were gunned down last year, sparking a national call for reform on gun legislation.

Last week, Obama made a similar appeal in Denver, Colo., just four miles from the site of another mass shooting last year at an Aurora movie theater.

"The only way this time will be different is if the American people demand that this time it must be different; that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids," the president said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Biden is scheduled to host an event with law enforcement officials at the White House, and the first lady plans to travel to Chicago on Wednesday to speak about eliminating violence in communities.

The bill that Reid moved to the Senate calendar does not include the controversial assault weapons ban, but concerns about the universal background check requirement in the plan have placed the bill's future in a holding pattern as some Republicans have voiced concern that it will lead to a national registry of guns.

The full Senate could begin consideration of the gun measures as early as this week or potentially the week after, but a group of senators, led by Rand Paul, Mike Lee and Ted Cruz, have threatened to filibuster "any legislation that infringe on the American people's constitutional right to bear arms, or on their ability to exercise this right without being subjected to government surveillance."

"We will oppose the motion to proceed to any legislation that will serve as a vehicle for any additional gun restrictions," the senators wrote in a letter to Reid.

One senior Republican senator said the legislation should at least receive consideration on the Senate floor rather than be blocked by a filibuster.

"I don't understand it. What are we afraid of?" Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday.

"Please let us go to the floor. If we go to the floor, I'm still hopeful that what I call the sweet spot -- background checks -- can succeed. We're working hard there," Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said on CBS' "Face the Nation."

White House senior adviser David Pfeiffer told ABC News' George Stephanopoulos the administration believes the background check portion of the bill will be approved "if people are willing to compromise."

"Now that the cameras are off, and they're not forced to look the Newtown families in the face, now they want to make it harder, and filibuster it," Pfeiffer asid. "If we have a simple up, or down vote, we can get this done."

"This is an issue that has 90 percent support. What the president wants is to sign a strong bipartisan bill that has enforceable background checks. And we can get that done," Pfeiffer said on ABC's "This Week" Sunday.

As the Senate weighs national gun measures this month, several states have already taken action and passed sweeping gun legislation over the past month. Colorado, Maryland and New York have enacted new gun restrictions in addition to Connecticut, which last week signed into law some of the nation's strictest gun laws since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary.

"We have come together in a way that relatively few places in our nation have demonstrated an ability to do," Gov. Dannel Malloy, D-Conn., said at the bill signing on Thursday.

Wayne LaPierre, executive vice president of the National Rifle Association, who opposes the assault weapons ban and universal background checks, criticized Connecticut's legislation.

"The problem with what Connecticut did is the criminals, the drug dealers, the people that are going to do horror and terror, they aren't going to cooperate," LaPierre said in a Fox News interview Thursday.

"Wayne reminds me of the clowns at the circus. They get the most attention. That's what he's paid to do," Malloy said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday. "This guy is so out of whack. It's unbelievable."

An ABC News/Washington Post poll conducted in March found that 91 percent of the public favors universal background checks. 52 percent favored stricter gun control laws in the country.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.