Behind the scenes, Vice President Joe Biden has been working diligently to come up with recommendations for gun reform by later this week, and in a move that will make many gun-control advocates happy, he’s been listening to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
The Washington Post reports White House aides have been in “regular contact” with Bloomberg aides since President Obama put Biden in charge of a task force to put together “real reforms right now” in the wake of the Newtown shootings. On ABC’s This Week Sunday, Senator Mitch McConnell said looming fiscal issues might push back legislative action on the working group’s proposals, but Bloomberg has been outspoken about the “right now” part since right after the Sandy Hook massacre — from TV to print andhis day job to his Mayors Against Illegal Guns group — and about the president’s role in pushing reform. Since, Bloomberg has emerged as one of the biggest faces of the gun reform movement, promoting his Demand a Plan initiative at every turn.
So, what is Biden’s package going to look like? From the details provided by the Post, it’s going to be pretty comprehensive:
A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.
And, as gun-control advocates have insisted since December, the group is thinking of suggestions the president could enact with executive action, avoiding a complicated political battle in Congress. Of course, any major reforms — like Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s assault-rifle ban, a House proposal on high-capacity magazines, or several other bills that have already been proposed — would have to pass through the two houses, but smaller measures, like “changes to federal mental-health programs and modernization of gun-tracking efforts by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives,” could be changed by the president’s pen.
For the bigger, more comprehensive stuff, the president will look for support from outside interest groups who have a stake in gun reform — like major, mass retailers — to fight the NRA head-on. In other words, Wal-Mart and their ilk. The president plans to push his reforms to them on the basis that, should they support the reforms he chooses, they’ll make more money:
For instance, this person suggested, Wal-Mart and other major gun retailers may have an incentive to support closing a loophole that allows people to bypass background checks if they purchase firearms at gun shows or through other types of private sales. That could result in more people buying guns in retail stores.