Obama volunteers press swing district Rs on guns

The permanent Obama campaign arrived Friday on the pavement outside the Langhorne office of U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick (R.,Pa.), in the form of 25 people huddled against the chill and joining voices to urge the congressman to back stricter gun control measures.

Organizing for Action, the successor to Obama’s reelection campaign, and run by some of the same aides, had summoned the supporters with emails and phone calls, hoping to step up public pressure for one of the president’s top legislative and regulatory priorities.

It was the first national “day of action” for the group, formed a month ago to try to turn the relative  excitement of the campaign and the massive contact list of Obama supporters and volunteers into an advocacy force behind administration policy preferences. In the Philadelphia area, OFA also sent protestors to the offices of Republican Reps. Jim Gerlach and Patrick J. Meehan.

All told, the group was sponsoring about 100 events in 80 congressional districts around the nation – petitions, candlelight vigils, rallies – on the gun-control issue, emphasizing Obama’s proposal for more extensive background checks for gun purchasers.

Two months after the mass slaughter at a Newtown elementary school, Obama has turned out some executive orders fine-tuning the process of background checks, but legislation is needed, said Kelly Spracklin, an OFA volunteer organizer. “The victims deserve a vote in Congress, their families deserve a vote, everyone deserves a vote,” Spracklin said.

Fitzpatrick has already voiced support for the expanded background checks, as has Rep. Patrick Meehan, of Delaware County, who represents the 7th district.

Indeed, Fitzpatrick and Meehan were not among those targeted when OFA began running television ads aimed at 13 Republicans the group’s strategists believe can be convinced to support the background-check expansion. Rep. Jim Gerlach (R.,Pa.), in Montgomery County’s 6th District, is among those who will be referenced in the ads.

“I’m concerned about the future I am leaving to my two children,” said Christine O’Donnell, of Upper Makefield, who came to the protest. She said of gun violence victims, “They’re my children, their all our children,” adding, “This is about the people telling our leaders what kind of communities we want.”

Some of the group went up to the third floor of the office building, to Fitzpatrick’s district office, to ask for a meeting. The representative was not in. They filled out constituent comment cards and voiced their opinions to a receptionist.

“He needs to know there’s a growing number of constituents in Bucks County who are not happy with the situation,” said Mary Avino, leader of Bucks Against Gun Violence; she said she has been trying to get a meeting with Fitzpatrick for two months, without success.

Sarah Nathan came from Willow Grove to participate. A campaign volunteer for Obama just a few short months ago, she was glad to be hitting the campaign trail again.

“It’s wonderful it’s continuing,” Nathan said. “Obama is the man.”