While the Left remains unsatisfied by Obama’s rhetoric and gestures, many conservatives fear the president’s words may morph into real action. Today’s announcement likely reinforces those concerns. But how likely is the White House to charge headlong into a fierce political battle over gun control? It’s impossible to predict the future, of course, but Obama’s previous behavior suggests his top legislative priorities lie elsewhere. Under intense questioning from the press, White House spokesman Jay Carney declined to characterize the president’s level of commitment to gun control…

(1) On politics, as I mention in the clip, overall support for broad-based gun control is hovering around an all-time low. The vast majority of Americans support basic gun rights. Yes, majorities say they’d back bans on “semi-automatic” or “assault” weapons, but Tim Carney explains that much of that sentiment can be attributed to confusion over terminology. (In short, most guns are now “semi automatic”). In general, public concern over the availability of firearms tends to peak right after tragedies, before dissipating as time goes on. Governance and politics are largely about prioritization, and the president may very well worry that an acrimonious fight over gun rights could drain the political capital he’d rather spend on other projects, such as immigration reform. Plus, there’s the crude issue of vote-whipping. The 2014 Senate elections favor Republicans because (a) midterm electorates tend to lean more conservative, and (b) Democrats are defending more seats, including several in red states. As 2012 proved, anything can happen, but I wonder if vulnerable Democratic incumbents in Alaska, Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina and West Virginia are eager to cross voters and the NRA in a series high-scrutiny gun votes.