Nightly News   |  April 09, 2013

Newtown families lobby for gun control

As families from Newtown arrived in Washington, D.C., to make their case for better gun control following the devastating Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting, a rift has emerged among Republicans. Some say they would oppose a filibuster to block a vote on new gun restrictions. NBC’s Kelly O’Donnell reports.

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>>> in washington tonight there are signs of movement in the effort to pass gun control measures as families of some of the children murdered at sandy hook elementary school in connecticut went to congress to make their emotional case in person. conservatives have promised to block debates scheduled for this week but that now may be shifting some. kelly o'donnell covering it all from the hill for us tonight. kelly , good evening.

>> reporter: good evening, brian. there is internal pressure bubbling up among republicans that could mean a vote on new gun restrictions could come as early as thursday. the president is working the phones looking for support. the family is here today were looking lawmakers in the eye with a direct appeal. a movement and a deeply personal cause. one senate office at a time. today eight newtown families put their grief into action, avoiding most of the media.

>> no comment right now. thank you.

>> reporter: while embracing help from their home state senators on how to essentially lobby lawmakers.

>> i think the gun industry was celebrating prematurely last week.

>> reporter: in a provocative move more than a dozen republicans are threatening to use senate rules to block a vote on new gun restrictions, adding an extra urgency to the newtown family visit.

>> they are aghast that a small group of entrenched opposition could stop democracy. that is outrageous.

>> reporter: sensing public disdain, a rift emerged among republicans. a dozen now saying publicly they would not support a filibuster including georgia's johnny isakson who met with newtown families but is against new restrictions.

>> now i might not vote the way they want to be vote but giving them the chance to be heard and tell their story meant a lot to them and it meant a lot to me.

>> reporter: the democrats call for expanded background checks and the call turned unusually personal today for harry reid .

>> sometimes people get a passion and purchase a handgun to do bad things with it. even as my dad did, killed himself. waiting a few days helps.

>> reporter: the white house is all in leveraging powerful assets like bringing the families to washington aboard airforce one. and deploying vice president biden to pressure capitol hill .

>> it's time for these guys to stand up and be counted.

>> reporter: the vice president also hosted 13 of those family members for breakfast this morning at his home, making that connection personal. tonight a small group of republicans and democrats are still working on ways to write background checks , legislation that might have broader appeal. so there are still negotiations going on.

>> kelly o'donnell on the hill for us tonight. thanks.