LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, bracing for a challenge in the 2014 elections, promised Saturday to try to block President Barack Obama’s gun-violence initiatives in a taped telephone recording sent across Kentucky.
“President Obama and his team are doing everything in their power to restrict your Constitutional right to keep and bear arms,” McConnell said in the recording. “Their efforts to restrict your rights, invading your personal privacy and overstepping their bounds with executive orders, is just plain wrong.”
Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager, said the call went out to “several hundred-thousand gun owners and hunters across the state.”
It came the same day that “Guns Across America” rallies were held in state capitals across the country, including Frankfort, where participants cradling guns jeered Obama’s plans to clamp down on assault weapons and stiffen background checks.
Obama laid out his gun proposals Wednesday in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children and six school employees dead.
The proposals came from a work group headed by Vice President Joe Biden and called for a variety of measures, including outlawing the sale of assault-style rifles, prohibiting gun magazines with more than 10 rounds and requiring that everyone who purchase a gun pass a background check.
Some of the measures would require congressional approval, while Obama signed 23 executive orders to put other provisions in place.
“Know that I will be doing everything in my power as Senate Republican leader, fighting tooth and nail, to protect your Second Amendment rights, so that law-abiding citizens such as yourself can properly and adequately protect yourself, your family, and your country,” McConnell, R-Ky., said in the phone call.
At the Commerce Lexington’s Public Policy Luncheon on Friday, McConnell avoided the issue of gun control, focusing instead on the national debt, his role in fiscal-cliff negotiations and his recent trip to Afghanistan, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.
He didn’t take questions from reporters after the speech.
Republicans have largely opposed the measures, and U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, also of Kentucky, said he would file legislation this week to seeking to nullify Obama’s executive orders because he said they stray into the area of “legislation.”
Paul also advocated for allowing school teachers and principals who have concealed-carry permits to take guns into the classroom to protect students.
Currently, McConnell has no re-election opposition, but some members of the tea party are searching for a quality opponent to challenge McConnell in the GOP primary, while Democrats are trying to recruit a candidate who can challenge Paul in the November 2014 election.