WASHINGTON (AP) — Democratic worries about this November's elections, a lack of Senate votes and House opposition are forcing congressional gun-control supporters to significantly winnow their 2014 agenda, a year after lawmakers scuttled President Barack Obama's effort to pass new curbs on firearms.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., recently said he needs additional votes before revisiting a proposed expansion of gun sale background checks that the Senate derailed last April. That has left advocates of tighter gun curbs hoping Reid will allow votes on more modest proposals, such as one by Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., to add convicted stalkers to the list of criminals barred from acquiring guns.
But with Reid wary of exposing Democratic senators facing tight re-election contests in some conservative and Western states to politically risky votes — and the Republican-run House showing no appetite to restrict guns anyway — people aren't holding their breath waiting for proposed gun restrictions to reach the Senate floor before Election Day.
"This kind of change doesn't happen overnight," said Dan Gross, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. "There are obviously a lot of other considerations and variables in play here, like elections."
Klobuchar's bill on stalkers would play into Democrats' campaign-season theme of pushing legislation that appeals to women, a key Democratic voting bloc. She said Tuesday she has discussed her legislation with Reid but didn't ask about holding a vote because she's first trying to round up Republican support to make the measure bipartisan.
Caution on the gun issue by Senate Democratic leaders has been displayed several times in recent months, even as the December 2012 killings of 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., that fanned interest in firearms restrictions fade further into the past.