Republicans Playing 'Russian Roulette' on Gun Reform

White House continues to press lawmakers but it's not clear a vote will happen.


Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas is one of several Republican senators threatening to filibuster proposed gun reform legislation.

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While President Barack Obama shuttles the parents of children gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School Connecticut to Capitol Hill in hopes of pressuring wavering lawmakers to back his gun control initiatives, one longtime political hand warns the president might be setting up a perfect 2014 issue for Democrats seeking to win control of the House. But Ron Bonjean, a GOP consultant, says without any new law passed, the gambit could backfire.

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"The optics of stopping a gun control bill with the families of Sandy Hook Elementary here in Washington gives the opportunity for Democrats to paint Republicans as insensitive," he says. "But the president has put so much political capital on the line regarding gun control that if he has very little result it will show diminished influence of the president and add more to his lame duck status."

Meanwhile, some Republican senators hope to block a vote on gun legislation while others caution against it.

Led by Tea Party favorites Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, a group of more than a dozen GOP senators have said they will oppose even taking a vote on the draft gun measure. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, who faces re-election in 2014, also joined the group promising to filibuster the gun proposal in its current form. They argue any gun legislation that reaches a vote could get amended to include further restrictions.

Taking aim at the senators threatening to filibuster, Obama accused them of using "political stunts" during a speech Monday in Connecticut.

"They're not just saying they'll vote 'no' on ideas that almost all Americans support," he said. "They're saying they'll do everything they can to even prevent any votes on these provisions. They're saying your opinion doesn't matter. And that's not right."

[PHOTOS: Guns in America]

Mark McKinnon, a Republican political consultant, says the conservative senators are making a grave error in pushing to block a gun vote.

"Republicans are playing Russian roulette if they filibuster on guns," he says.

And Republican lawmakers, however, remain split on the idea of trying to block a vote.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell she wouldn't support a filibuster effort.

"I don't support a filibuster, provided that there are amendments, if we can have a full and robust debate," she said Tuesday.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., made similar remarks Sunday on CBS' Face The Nation, saying he doesn't understand the move.

"The purpose of the United States Senate is to debate and to vote and to let the people know where we stand," he said. "I would not only encourage it, I don't understand it. What are we afraid of?"

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