Via the Right Scoop, gaze upon the ruins of Obama’s months-long gun-control campaign, designed from the word go as a way to corner Republicans on a tough vote ahead of 2014 and now cause for angry shrieking at Democrats among the liberal base. For once, I’m on Moore’s side: How about a Senate vote, Harry? Let’s get Mark Pryor and Mary Landrieu and the other 14 or so Democrats who don’t want to touch this issue on record. And since Moore’s eager to emphasize personal experiences with gun violence, let’s hold hearings too. Here’s the GOP’s first witness, and here’s the second.
This clip’s a good summation of the Piers-ian approach to this subject, though, in its endorsement of policy driven by emotion rather than efficacy. Note that neither of them explicitly argues that a new AWB would prevent the shootings in the hypothetical they imagine; how could they when they know that a lunatic like Jared Loughner was able to wreak havoc with a standard semiautomatic? That’s one of the big problems with targeting “assault weapons” in the first place: No one can seem to explain convincingly why one scary-looking semiautomatic should be banned while other very similar semiautomatics should be left alone. The whole thing smells of empty symbolism and incrementalism, banning a certain arbitrary class of weapons not because it’ll do much to reduce gun violence but because (a) then politicians can say they’ve Done Something and (b) the public will gradually get more comfortable with the idea of gun regulation, which moves the Overton window towards more aggressive regulation later. Moore, at least, has been honest about his goal of banning all semiautomatics, not just “assault weapons.” Morgan hasn’t quite reached that level of candor yet as far as I know, but give him time.
Don’t get too caught up in this, though. One of the political benefits to Democrats of Reid dropping the AWB is that it makes Schumer’s background-check bill, which does stand a real chance of passing, seem even more modest by comparison. Read Charles Cooke on that if you haven’t already.