In interviews, gun control advocates’ frustration with — and mystification over — Washington is palpable. So far, their anger has not turned specifically on Obama — though people in Newtown itself and gun control advocates beyond question whether he could have done more to turn the post-Sandy Hook momentum into tangible results.But the increasingly sour mood of gun control proponents highlights the stakes in reaping even a slim victory from Congress this spring.Anything less, in terms of Obama’s legacy, would transform Newtown from a moment of moral clarity to a symbol of how much clout a newly reelected president really has in a divided Washington.Obama may still get a bill, but not like the one he and his allies envisioned in December. There won’t be new bans on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines. Universal background checks have moved from an assumed yes to a wish list item for gun control advocates. Even a new gun trafficking law — the smallest and weakest of the issues — is not a sure thing to pass the Senate. . .
The fate of Obama’s gun control rests on the slim hope that third-party groups can persuade wary lawmakers to support background checks during the two-week congressional recess. Bloomberg is spending $12 million to push background checks, though he conceded on “Meet the Press” that his push is as much about the 2014 midterm elections as it is winning a background checks vote in April.Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), leader of the House Democrats’ gun control task force, said passing background checks will require mobilizing existing, but often apathetic, support.“What we need is more grass-roots efforts by the people that read and listen to news reports, people who want to make sure their neighborhoods are safe,” Thompson said. “There’s great support for passing background checks; we just need to ramp up the enthusiasm for people to go one step forward.”And Bloomberg will continue to use his billions to push gun control candidates in 2014.