Via the Examiner, I … did not expect that the argument for gun control might come down to a comparative discussion of which gun you’re better off using to bring a man down. (Counterarguments for semiautomatic rifles: What if you fire the shotgun and miss? Isn’t a rifle better at longer range?) But don’t be too hard on him. Feinstein’s assault-weapons ban, which would in theory “dry up the supply” of AWs in a few hundred years when America’s current inventory finally rusts over, is headed down the toilet in the Senate and Biden knows it. That’s why he emphasized banning high-capacity magazines today instead of banning assault weapons. The point of Feinstein’s big AWB rollout and the various appearances by prominent Dems in support of it is to put pressure on Blue Dogs like Mary Landrieu and Joe Manchin to fall in line in the Senate. The White House is okay with the ban being filibustered on a party-line vote; that gives them an opportunity to blame the GOP in the midterms for hating The Children or whatever. They’re not okay with this bill going down in flames with lots of defections from centrist Democrats. Today’s push is really more of an intraparty squabble than an interparty one.
So what have we learned from Democrats this afternoon? Several things:
• According to Biden, having armed guards in schools would be a terrible mistake. I think it’s more accurate to say it’d be a terrible waste of money and manpower, but the public disagrees with both of us. ABC/WaPo’s new poll this morning shows 55 percent support for the idea, including 65 percent of Republicans. In fact, Republicans are open to a host of gun-control proposals — more background checks, a federal database of gun sales, even a ban on high-capacity mags. Once you attach Obama’s name to the policy package, though, GOP support collapses to just 21 percent overall. David Frum warned Democrats about letting The One polarize this issue by taking the lead on it. Too late.
• Per Dick Durbin, this isn’t merely “an issue of Constitution, it’s an issue of conscience.” If Feinstein’s bill somehow passes and ends up before SCOTUS, look for the Court’s liberal wing to uphold it under the famous “Issue of Conscience” exception to the Bill of Rights.
• New Connecticut Sen. Chris Murphy has returned from an alternate dimension in which Feinstein’s bill passed last year and somehow saved some of Adam Lanza’s victims. Why he’s confident about that, I don’t know; the great what-if hanging over debates about banning guns is what a lunatic might choose to do if forced to go to plan B. In Lanza’s case, you don’t need to speculate: He did his killing with a Bushmaster but he had a Glock 10mm and a Sig Sauer 9mm on him. (Police also found a shotgun in his car.) I’m not sure why anyone thinks he would have killed fewer people using the pistols instead of the Bushmaster. And correct me if I’m wrong, gun aficionados, but neither of those models is prohibited under Feinstein’s new ban. Here’s the list. The Sig Sauer P556 is listed but that’s distinct from the 9mm, no? Banning high-capacity magazines, as Feinstein aspires to do, might have reduced the death toll in Newtown by forcing Lanza to take more time to reload but I don’t see how taking the Bushmaster out of his hands changes things materially if he’s still got the Glock and Sig Sauer. And Feinstein’s ban would only apply to future sales, not to guns that are already in circulation, so unless Lanza’s mother bought her guns after the hypothetical date of enactment, her son would still have access to them. As is true of any other future would-be killer, who’ll simply buy his guns from the country’s gigantic existing inventory if a ban on manufacturing went into effect.
Exit question: Who wants to be the one to tell Biden that certain shotgun models are also on Feinstein’s list?