DNC director: Obama still wants the assault-weapons ban reinstated; Update: AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, says Obama

Via the Weekly Standard, I can’t decide if this is newsworthy or not. It’s like when O says he wants to close Gitmo. On the one hand: Hmmm! On the other hand: Meh. It’s not happening, so who cares? The only reasons it’s interesting are (a) at this point, given how jittery Dems are about alienating rural voters in purple-blue states like Pennsylvania, it’s surprising to hear them make even a rhetorical concession to gun control and (b) this isn’t what Jay Carney said a few days ago when reporters pressed him during the gaggle.

[CARNEY:] I don’t have any — the Department of Justice can provide more details in terms of some of the steps that we’ve taken involving making higher quantity and quality of information available in background checks, and other measures they’ve taken which I know they can provide to you, working with law enforcement agencies. But the President’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now.

QUESTION: In terms of like assault weapons or something like that, there’s no renewed push for a renewed assault weapons ban?

MR. CARNEY: Well, as you know, there has been opposition to that since it expired within Congress, and I think — I wouldn’t argue with your assessment about that. So the President is focused on doing the things that we can do that protect Second Amendment rights, which he thinks is important, but also to make it harder for individuals who should not, under existing law, have weapons to obtain them.

Does that contradict what Gaspard says here? They’re both realistic about the chances of a new AWB making it through Congress, i.e. zippo, so Carney’s giving the pragmatic take to reassure gun owners and Gaspard’s giving the in-a-liberal-utopia take to placate their base (a little). In fact, the more I think about it, the more I like the Gitmo analogy I used up top. Like Gitmo, this was an issue about which O talked tough during his campaign and in the early days after he was elected. Democrats controlled both houses of Congress; if the political will was there on their side, they could have rammed it through. But Obama realized quickly that it wasn’t, so his spokesflacks started backing away from it even as gun-control diehards like Eric Holder continued to say as recently as February that the administration supports reinstating the assault-weapons ban. (The new ban wouldn’t apply to the ATF’s shipments of assault weapons to Mexican drug cartels, I assume.) This is the compromise they’ve settled on, I guess — occasional lip service to the AWB as required while staying scrupulously far away from it in practice so as not to make life more difficult for their caucus. As I say, newsworthy or not?

Update: Via Mediaite, here he is tonight at the National Urban League more or less supporting Gaspard’s point but being far smarter rhetorically about it. Most voters don’t know what an “assault weapon” is; it’s a gassy term that plays into fears that any new gun regs will be used to target a broad class of weapons. By singling out AK-47s, he reduces that risk.

Belated exit question: Who said this? “There are differences between myself and the NRA.” Hint: Not Obama, although that statement certainly applies to him too. And in case you’re wondering why any candidate would say that right now, read this.