Dem Rep. Sanchez: Passing new gun restrictions will be tough sell in House

Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said Tuesday that passing a ban on assault weapons or high-capacity magazines will be a hard sell with some of her House Democratic colleagues.

“I know that, at least on the Democratic side, I think there will be some who will vote against passing an assault-weapons ban, who would probably vote against large magazines of bullets,” said Sanchez, a liberal Democrat, in an interview with MSNBC.


“So I think it's going to be very difficult, much more difficult than most people realize,” she added.

The California lawmaker said the toughest Democrats to convince will probably be those from more rural areas in the South or the Midwest where their constituents largely support gun ownership and oppose bans such as the ones being floated by Vice President Biden’s gun violence prevention task force.

“They probably aren't worried about saying, ‘Hey, this is part of what we do, and we're not willing to budge on that,’ ” said Sanchez of her conservative Democratic colleagues.

President Obama will unveil his proposals to reduce gun violence on Wednesday and is expected to propose bans on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, as well as increased background checks. 

Obama will be joined by Biden, whose group has been meeting for weeks about possible actions that the president or Congress could take to prevent future gun violence, in the aftermath of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., last month that killed 20 children.

The White House is considering 19 possible executive actions that it has determined the president could take to change the country’s gun laws.

But those proposals are not assured passage, with many Democrats like Sanchez expressing doubts they could make it through Congress.

Sanchez’s colleague Rep. Ron BarberRonald (Ron) Sylvester BarberKavanaugh nomination a make or break moment to repeal Citizens United Latina Leaders to Watch 2018 Principles and actions mean more than Jeff Flake’s words MORE (D-Ariz.) on Tuesday, however, countered that he believes there are at least three areas of gun-related legislation that Democrats and Republicans can agree on: more strict reporting on mental-health issues, closing the “gun show loophole” by requiring universal background checks and reducing the size of ammunition clips in guns.

Barber, who sits on the Congressional panel tasked with crafting gun reform measures, met with Biden’s group. Barber said he thinks any gun-related changes should be made with Congress’s approval and not through executive action, as has been suggested as a possibility by the White House.

“I believe though, generally speaking, that any changes that are going to impact the public and public policy ought to be made through the congressional process, where we can have hearings, we can have floor debate and we can actually enact laws,” said Barber in an interview with CNN on Tuesday.

“I believe the most serious aspects of this issue are going to be resolved that way, not by executive order. So I would have to wait and see what the president proposes, but I generally favor going through the congressional process, which is how our government was designed to work.”

Barber was shot in the 2011 Tucson, Ariz., shooting that injured former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) and killed six people.

Sanchez said she worried that there were more Democrats from conservative districts that oppose new gun restrictions than from the inner-city areas where gun violence affects their constituents on a daily basis.

“There are probably more of them there than those that come from urban areas where we see the gun issue being really terrible in our neighborhoods,” said Sanchez, who represents parts of Orange and Los Angeles Counties. “I know, as the economy has gone down, there's been more homicides, more gun violence in the area that I live, and I see it happening in more places.”

This story was updated at 1:28 p.m.