The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

Politics

January 15, 2013

Democratic senator could slow Obama's push for gun control



By Ed O'Keefe

The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama has promised quick action to get a series of gun-control proposals through Congress and has been moving purposefully to that end.

But one of his key allies on Capitol Hill, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., could prove to be an early obstacle to the president's swift pace.

Leahy, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and will be at the White House on Wednesday when Obama unveils proposals from Vice President Joe Biden to limit gun violence, said he wants to hear from more than just the administration. Leahy said he plans to field ideas from a broad range of voices before advancing any legislation through the committee.

"I want everybody to be heard," Leahy said in an interview Tuesday, despite potential pressure from the White House to act quickly. "I have some ideas of things that can be done, and if there are things in the vice president's proposal that the committee agrees with, then they'll be included in the legislation. If not, they won't be."

Leahy's decision to remain at the helm of the Judiciary Committee, instead of seeking the powerful Appropriations Committee gavel, was greeted with disappointment by some gun-control advocates, who worry his centrist views on gun issues will make him an insufficient advocate for bold action. Advocates blame Leahy for stalling efforts to push new restrictions after the shooting rampage two years ago that injured former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

"What I'm really afraid of is he's going to be too cautious in his approach," said Joshua Horwitz, executive director of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. "It would have been great to have one of our staunch allies in that position."

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