Democrats, GOP spar over political effects of gun control defeat
June 20, 1999
Web posted at: 10:56 p.m. EDT (0256 GMT)
WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, June 20) -- Democratic leaders in Congress may have failed in their quest to push through gun control provisions last week, but they are convinced that their loss in the House could eventually turn into a victory at the ballot box.
"The Republicans lost a major, major issue as we look to the coming year. The American people are going to understand that 80 percent of Democrats support what we tried to do in the House this week," said Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-South Dakota).
Polls show that more than 60 percent of American voters are in favor of stricter gun control laws
"What I told members (was) you've got to make a decision to take this on, run on it, explain it, fight for it. And if you do that, it will work out," said House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-Missouri) Sunday on ABC's "This Week" program.
After losing on an amendment that shortened the waiting period for instant background checks at gun shows from three days to one day, most Democrats decided to vote against the underlying gun control bill. The measure then went down to defeat when anti-gun control Republicans joined the Democrats in the "no" column.
The decision to oppose the bill because they didn't like the gun show amendment has prompted some GOP leaders to accuse Democrats of playing politics with the issue of youth violence.
"I'm afraid the Democrats are more interested in having an issue than in closing the loopholes in the existing laws -- not to mention enforcing existing laws," said GOP presidential candidate Steve Forbes on CBS's "Face The Nation."
With polls showing more than 60 percent of American voters in favor of stricter gun control laws, even some legislators who generally oppose additional firearms regulations are eager to point out that they do favor some restrictions.
"There are some important things I did in the Senate, like make sure that children don't possess semi-automatic assault weapons," said Sen. John Ashcroft (R-Missouri) on CNN's "Late Edition."
As Senate and House leaders negotiate a final juvenile justice bill, some of the less controversial gun control measures that didn't make it out of the House -- such as requiring child safety locks -- still have a good chance of ultimately passing.
The political wrangling over guns, however, is likely to continue through the next congressional elections in 2000.
Correspondent Jonathan Karl contributed to this report.