The Note: Congress is back – but not ready to act on guns

If the political world is different now, it sure won’t look like it for a while.

February 26, 2018, 5:58 AM

— -- The TAKE with Rick Klein

If the political world is different now, it sure won’t look like it for a while.

For all the promises of action and the newfound organizing activity, and despite corporate backlash against the NRA and stirring in the states, Congress returns to session not ready to act at all in response to the latest school shooting. There are no short-term or medium-term prospects of lawmakers doing anything on the topic of guns.

President Donald Trump is indicating that he’s ready to defy the gun lobby, albeit in only limited ways. But he still looks like he wants to have different fights. His focus remains on arming teachers, and he’s mixing in fresh attacks on his own FBI as he conflates missed signals in Florida with new heat in the Robert Mueller probe.

The NRA isn’t panicked, in part because the organization isn’t convinced the president knows what he’s looking to do: “These are just things that he’s discussing right now,” NRA spokeswoman Dana Loesch said on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.” “So far, nothing’s been proposed yet.”

One thing that hasn’t changed: Action or inaction on guns hinges on the president’s wishes. Activism matters – but only insofar as it forces movement.

The RUNDOWN with MaryAlice Parks

Around the country, plenty of Democratic-leaning voters still feel put off by the Democratic Party. The scars from 2016 and years prior are still raw.

Party officials in Washington may roll their eyes and say the old Clinton-Sanders divide is overblown and a thing of the past (and they may be right about that), but divisions between the organizers in the states and those in the Capitol, the grassroots and insiders, the progressives and moderate candidates, are real. And a lot of Democrats are wondering if the party has learned from its mistakes.

In Texas last week, with primary voting underway, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee unilaterally declared one Democratic candidate unfit to serve, saying the decision was, in part, because of comments she made about the idea of moving home to Texas. From the East Coast, with their proverbial noses in the air, members said this one candidate sounded elitist. In making its feelings known so publicly, the organization risked looking heavy-handed to Texas voters — as if it were handpicking a winner.

By comparison, in Illinois, leading Democratic-friendly groups like Planned Parenthood, NARAL, the SEIU, MoveOn and Emily’s List have all backed an insurgent candidate running against a Democratic incumbent, and the DCCC has stayed silent.

Another indicator of persistent party divisions: The longtime senior California Senator Dianne Feinstein failed to win the endorsement of local party chapter in her state over the weekend.

The Democratic Party may worry about primary voters picking candidates it wouldn’t pick, but if history is any guide, plenty of Republicans two years ago thought primary voters had put their chances in jeopardy, too.

The TIP with John Verhovek

As the debate over gun control comes to Capitol Hill this week, some of the nation's highest-profile governors appear increasingly divided over how to tackle an issue that's risen to the top of the national consciousness in the wake of the Florida school shooting.

At the National Governors Association (NGA) winter meeting this weekend, Republican governors either called for action, or avoided the subject of gun control altogether. Some directly opposed President Trump's push to arm trained teachers or school personnel to deter potential mass shooters.

“That's something I think we need to have more discussion on, and at first, I don't think that's a very good idea,” Gov. Brian Sandoval, R-Nev., told ABC News over the weekend. “I'm a father of a daughter who's studying to be a teacher. It wouldn't be something I would want for my daughter.”

“I don't want teachers being armed. I want teachers teaching, and I want there to be a resource officer," Gov. Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., said. “If there is a teacher with a special exception, they're a veteran or former law enforcement ... I would be open-minded to that.”

Avoiding the topic completely at the NGA meeting were Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wisc., Gov. Matt Bevin, R-Ky., and Gov. Rick Snyder, R-Mich., who refused to answer any questions on guns when asked by the media.

In a sign that a bipartisan push from the nation's governors is still possible, Republican Gov. John Kasich of Ohio and Democratic Gov. John Hickenlooper of Colorado, who are generating chatter about a potential 2020 unity presidential ticket, reiterated their call for action on gun control in an interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl that aired on “This Week” Sunday.

“What I've asked people to do is — you've got to search your heart on this — this is not about who's got political power, this is not about campaign contributions, this is about how you want to look in the mirror and think about what you'd do when you were in,” Kasich said.


  • President Trump hosts the 2018 White House business session with U.S. governors at 10:45 a.m.
  • President Trump meets with credit union representatives at 2:30 p.m.

    “To be honest, I don’t know. Obviously, there would have to be an incredibly high standard on who can bear arms in our schools, but I think there is no one solution to creating safety.” — Ivanka Trump to NBC News, after being asked whether she thinks having trained, armed teachers in classrooms — as her father has proposed — would make children safer.


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    North Korea open to talks with United States, South Korea says. South Korea’s presidential office said Sunday that North Korea’s delegation to the Olympics agreed that there should be talks between the United States and North Korea. (Hakyng Kate Lee and Ben Gittleson)

    US could be witnessing ‘end of two-party system’: Republican governor. Ohio Gov. John Kasich said he believes Americans could be witnessing the “end of a two-party system.” (Katie Kindelan)

    Florida school shooting creates ‘a window’ to reform gun laws: GOP governor. The Florida school shooting that killed 17 people has created a “window” for reforming gun laws in the U.S., said a Republican governor. (Katie Kindelan)

    Teens have raging passions and fights, so guns in schools ‘not a good idea’: Florida teacher. A Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School teacher, who sheltered students in her classroom during the Feb. 14 massacre that killed 17, said arming teachers with guns is “not a good idea.” (Katie Kindelan and Allison Pecorin)

    Florida sheriff’s ‘abdication of duty’ in shooting should be focus not gun owners: NRA. The Florida high school shooting that killed 17 students and staff on Feb. 14 is the result of a "dereliction of duty" by local police who failed to adequately follow up on prior tips about the alleged shooter, a National Rifle Association spokesperson said. (Katie Kindelan)

    The Russian bots are coming. But a bipartisan duo is on it, Politico Magazine reports.

    The Note is a daily ABC News feature that highlights the key political moments of the day ahead. Please check back tomorrow for the latest.

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