Top lawmakers predict 'broad middle' will rise up and demand a gun control vote
By Rebekah Metzler
April 25, 2013Gun control legislation will return to the Senate floor despite an initial failed effort, top lawmakers said Thursday.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the "broad middle" will continue to press for action on a measure hammered out by a pair of pro-gun senators that would expand background checks on gun purchases.
"My own little prediction – I think we're going to bring this bill back before the end of the year and I think you may find some changes," said Schumer, during a breakfast sponsored by the Christian Science Monitor. "We may change the bill a little bit – but I think you may find some changes out there in the public. Lots of senators who thought it was safe to vote against it because of the intensity are not so sure anymore."
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., one of four Republicans to vote in support of the measure, called the proposal "common sense," even though it wasn't precisely what he would have crafted.
"But I do agree with Chuck that I think the issue is going to come back," he said at the same event.
Outside groups, such as one led by gun control advocate New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, have started running advertisements against senators who voted against the measure in an attempt to pressure them to change their position.
[READ: The NRA Wasn't the Only Group That Killed New Gun Legislation]
A recent poll shows their tactic may prove effective.
Public Policy Polling said Wednesday Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., has seen her approval rating drop 15 percent from a similar poll in October and points to her vote against the gun legislation as one of the reasons.
"Fifty percent of voters in the state say Ayotte's 'no' vote will make them less likely to support her in a future election, compared to just 23 percent who consider it to be a positive," said polling analyst Tom Jensen in a memo accompanying the poll results.
Overall, about 75 percent of New Hampshire voters say they support background checks, according to the poll.
Schumer said this possible inflection point marks a reversal over the past decade in how politicians may view gun legislation. The last time a major bill was passed was 1994.
"How were we able to pass these bills in 1994? The broad middle rose up and said 'we want rational laws on guns.' Why? Because crime was ripping apart America," Schumer said. "Rightly or wrongly, those two bills were blamed for Democrats losing control of the House and the Senate and for 20 years, not much happened. And these mass shootings have caused the broad middle to rise up again."
Schumer and McCain also both pushed back on the notion that President Barack Obama did not do enough to help pass a gun measure. Schumer said it was "totally unfair" to blame Obama and McCain said it's natural to point fingers when something fails but "I don't know what the administration could have done."