Surprisingly, a meaningless photo op designed to show how open-minded each side is failed to produce meaningful agreement.
The National Rifle Association of America is made up of over 4 million moms and dads, daughters and sons, who are involved in the national conversation about how to prevent a tragedy like Newtown from ever happening again. We attended today’s White House meeting to discuss how to keep our children safe and were prepared to have a meaningful conversation about school safety, mental health issues, the marketing of violence to our kids and the collapse of federal prosecutions of violent criminals.
We were disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment. While claiming that no policy proposals would be “prejudged,” this Task Force spent most of its time on proposed restrictions on lawful firearms owners – honest, taxpaying, hardworking Americans. It is unfortunate that this Administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems. We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen. Instead, we will now take our commitment and meaningful contributions to members of congress of both parties who are interested in having an honest conversation about what works – and what does not.
Biden’s next allegedly important meeting on guns today is with the entertainment industry, which not only bankrolls his party but is being represented at the table by longtime Democratic senator and presumptive Biden chum Chris Dodd. I wonder how they’ll make out.
Question: Given the influence of redistricting and ideological polarization on the current composition of the House, with more and more members worried less about the general election than about primary challenges, why would progressive bigshots expect a nationwide messaging campaign for gun control to shake loose a critical mass of Republican votes? Answer: They don’t. The irony of all the Democratic rhetoric lately about how they need to move quickly and ram something through before public interest fades is that they’re actually playing a longer game. They know nothing significant will pass the House right now; the real goals of O’s gun-control push are to help Democrats recapture the House in 2014 by making the GOP take a bunch of politically unpopular votes and to weaken the NRA politically so that a future, bluer Congress feels less compunction about voting for more ambitious gun-control measures down the line. (Just yesterday, Rachel Maddow assured Democratic America that the NRA is a paper tiger.) Gun-control fan David Frum laments that Obama’s polarizing the issue by wading into it instead of letting grassroots groups go to work on the public, but I don’t think O has a choice. If he doesn’t act, the takeaway from this episode will be that even after the worst sort of gun horror there’s insufficient political will among liberals to achieve something legislatively. It’d be hugely demoralizing for them. He has the bully pulpit; his favorable rating is, I assume, vastly higher than Wayne LaPierre’s; lefty fears of the public losing interest in the issue over time are well founded; and the whole thing’s already incredibly ideologically polarized. Gabby Giffords’s new grassroots org can still go to work even if Obama issues a mostly symbolic executive order about gun reporting. All he’s doing now is getting voters accustomed to the idea that government action is both possible and desirable, in preparation for a more aggressive push when they have the numbers again in Congress.
Exit question: If assault weapons are such a burning national crisis, why didn’t Obama and the Democratic leadership pass something when they owned the House and the Senate four years ago? The answer wouldn’t have anything to do with Obama caring much, much more about his own reelection than about ending gun violence, would it?