While the fiscal cliff has dominated Washington’s attention in recent weeks, lawmakers and activists are laying the groundwork for their big push. Vice President Joe Biden, tasked with heading a commission to investigate gun violence, has been quietly meeting with experts, interest groups, and public officials and is expected to release a set of recommendations within weeks. Boston mayor Thomas Menino, co-chair of Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told the Boston Herald this week that an optimistic Biden had assured him that Obama would sign legislation “by the end of January.”
“We had been led to believe their report would come by end of January, but we’re hearing they may want to have something out by January 15, even quicker than expected,” Mark Glaze, director of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, told TPM.
House Democrats are moving ahead with their own plans as well. On Friday, Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA), chair of the newly created Gun Violence Prevention Task Force, announced the appointment of 12 vice chairs, including Rep. Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY), the body’s leading voice on gun control. According to a Democratic aide, the group plans to release its recommendations in early February and is already organizing public hearings on the issue.
Obama has personally identified an assault weapons ban and limits on ammunition magazine size as top priorities. Other possible reforms could include background check requirements for purchases at gun shows, a loophole that’s helped create a huge market of off-record arms purchases.
In addition to public hearings and new legislation, Vice President Biden's task force and a big push from gun control groups, the United States Conference of Mayors in DC later this month is expected to be a pretty big platform for the country's mayors to have a say in the matter.
We'll see what becomes of this blitz, but I'm betting this will dominate the news starting next week, especially given today's latest shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.