Three minutes of video that have less to do with pushing specific policies to reduce gun violence than pushing his supporters to keep up the pressure. One of O’s biggest obstacles in passing something is the public’s notoriously short attention span after a mass shooting. If the White House couldn’t get something through Congress after one of its own members was shot in the head by a lunatic, odds that they’ll get something passed in January, after a long holiday break and more fiscal-cliff clusterfarkery, are low. (Then again, Obama never really tried to pass something after Tucson because, as always, his reelection was more important to him than gun control.) He needs an all-hands-on-deck public pressure campaign by O-bots to keep the heat on, if only so that he can better demagogue Republicans later — the Clinton playbook — for failing to Do Something when the bill fails in the House.
Have a look at Pew’s new poll today to see just how tenuous his position is. Less than a week after 20 kids were killed, he still can’t get to 50 percent on whether it’s more important to “control gun ownership” than protect gun rights. Twenty years ago, 45% said the NRA had too much influence over gun laws; today, just 36% say so. (The number who say the NRA has either too little influence or the right amount exceeds the number who say it has too much.) This is a rare cultural issue on which opinion has become more conservative over time, enough so that O’s worried that even the bully pulpit and a national burst of grief over murdered children won’t be enough to deliver policy change. They might have enough momentum to get a very modest bill done; if they focused exclusively on high-capacity magazines or hollow-point bullets, they might peel off enough Republicans in the House to make it happen. But Obama’s already invested too much rhetorically in something bigger so he’s obviously playing a longer game of getting the House GOP to spike a new assault-weapons ban and then hoping it helps deliver the House back to Pelosi in 2014.
One silver-y lining for Democrats from Pew, though: On this issue as with so many others, younger voters are firmly in their corner.
With the glaring exception of seniors, those demographics break just as you’d expect given the results of the national exit poll in November. But as I say, young voters are the key. Heavy gun regulation is impossible now but, unless something changes, might not be in another 10-20 years. Gun rights advocates had better ramp up their outreach to them, replete with efforts to encourage ownership (which correlates strongly with support for gun rights, as you might expect), to make them more comfortable with guns or else trouble’s on the way.