Republicans cagey on gun control vote

After Obama's call for Congress to vote on his proposals, Republicans are mostly radio silent on the matter

Topics: House Republicans, Gun Control, Barack Obama, State of the union 2013, Senate Republicans,

The emotional high-note of President Obama’s State of the Union came when he called for Congress to vote on gun prevention measures. “The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote,” Obama said.

As The Hill points out, at the time, “Republican leaders stood and looked around but did not applaud.” So far, the public reaction from the Republicans has been comparable.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., all made statements after Obama’s speech, but none of them mentioned a gun control vote. Only McConnell mentioned guns at all. “Gun control, cap-and-trade, tax increases, and spending programs are exactly what we’ve come to expect from a liberal President who seems perfectly content to preside over a divided country and a stagnant economy,” he said in his statement.

In an interview with CBS “This Morning,” Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., dodged a direct question about a potential vote. From the CBS transcript:

Norah O’Donnell: Do you agree there should at least be a vote on gun control? And let people vote however they want.

Ryan: Well and as Speaker Boehner has said let’s focus sequester, on the economy and let’s see what the senate can pass and send over to the house, then we would take that legislation up.

A few House Republican had more to say about it, like Rep. Robert Aderholt, R-Ala., who wrote in a statement: “The President’s speech tonight focused too much on his desire for gun control, increased government spending and decreased illegal immigration enforcement.”

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, threw some cold water on the prospect: “We are interested in looking at those areas where we can actually do something. Good intentions do not necessarily make good laws, and attempting to stampede members into voting on things that in the past have not shown an ability to prevent some of these tragedies is not the way to go.”

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, said that he thought the President used the victims of gun violence as “political pawns,” also noting that Illinois has some of the strictest gun control laws in the country “and it has some of the highest crime in the United States. Clearly gun control is not going to protect those families.” But, he added, that ”if there’s things that we can do to save lives without violating the second amendment I think we should consider it.”

And then there’s Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla, who addressed the issue in an interview with “This Morning,” saying that a vote was likely, though there were not any proposals on the table at the moment.

“Do you agree with the President that those people deserve a vote?” asked Charlie Rose.

“Anything that would work to prevent that, again we should want to vote on,” Rubio said. “The problem is that everything the president is proposing would do nothing to prevent what has happened in Newtown, and nothing to prevent further violence in the future.” He added: “So I’m not sure which proposals the president was referring to but I’m sure there’ll be votes on it.”

Jillian Rayfield is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on politics. Follow her on Twitter at @jillrayfield or email her at

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