By Pat Loeb
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — President Obama today called for sweeping new gun laws in the United States (see related story), setting the stage for what may become the most sweeping political battle over gun control in decades.
Many of the president’s proposals require the kind of bipartisanship in Congress that he has been unable to get on any issue so far, and it’s not clear that his gun control proposals will fare any better.
Even as members of the Philadelphia delegation were poring over the president’s 23 executive orders, one person who instantly hailed the president’s package was Congressman Chaka Fattah.
“There’s no other country on the face of this earth that has this kind of prevalence of violence with guns, and we have to do something about it,” Fattah (D-Pa.) said today.
Admittedly, Fattah is clearly what the president referred to as a “usual suspect” in favor of limits on gun commerce.
Listen to the entire Obama/Biden statement in this CBS Philly podcast (runs 24:26)…
Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick, whose district covers sections of Northeast Philadelphia, Lower Bucks County and Montgomery County, issued a statement today that said, in part, “Like many, I share concerns regarding unilateral Executive Orders which may or may not represent the will of the American people and our community. However, it is imperative that we close the loopholes and fix the nation’s background check system.”
It will be interesting to see what some of the more conservative suburban Pennsylvania legislators have to say about Obama’s package, but one local group that’s expecting to influence some of the public pressure the president asked for, from less likely sources, is a group of clergy who are asking their members to adopt gun control as an act of faith.
“I think the faith community is totally critical to the president’s success,” said Bryan Miller, executive director of Heeding God’s Call, based in Philadelphia, “and other people who believe in public safety.”
Dorothy Johnson-Speight, founder of the antiviolence group “Mothers In Charge,” says she has been disappointed before.
She has been pursuing some of the measures that Obama proposed today ever since her son was killed by an illegally acquired gun.
“I remember being on the steps of the Capitol asking for a law to be put in place that someone would report a gun lost or stolen, and it got shot down!” she recalled today. “I mean, why wouldn’t you want to report your gun if it’s lost or stolen?”
Johnson-Speight thinks this time will be different because there will be more public pressure to balance out the influence of the NRA.
KYW’s Paul Kurtz reports that President Obama’s address today was streamed live inside Delia’s Gun Shop, on Torresdale Avenue in Northeast Philadelphia, where business has been booming since the Sandy Hook massacre.
Owner Fred Delia says he’s running out of many types of inventory.
“The products are not available,” he tells KYW Newsradio. “Gun companies are going full capacity. Nothing’s coming out of them. Ammunition, they bought everything off the shelf. I had people here this morning (asking), ‘Give me some .223 ammo.’ It’s impossible to get. There’s none around.”
Delia says all this talk of gun control has made people extremely nervous. He doesn’t disagree with all of the president’s ideas: “The background checks, yes. Mental, yes.”
But beyond that, he believes that Obama’s executive orders will be counterproductive.
“The criminal doesn’t care what you do,” he said.
While the president was speaking, 32-year-old Alex Wolf (below) walked into Delia’s and became a first-time gun buyer.
“Just because there’s a lot of talk about the Second Amendment, and it’s a real concern for a citizen,” he explained.
What was Wolf looking to buy?
“A Glock, .22. Home defense, and eventually maybe a concealed carry.”
Pat Sirianni, a longtime gun owner and regular at the shop, says the focus on firearms in the aftermath of the Sandy Hook school massacre has set off a panic.
“We’ve had people come in here and buy assault rifles that have never owned a gun,” he said, incredulous.
Stay tuned to KYW Newsradio 1060 and CBSphilly.com for updates on this developing story.