Obama: I'll "vigorously" pursue a "meaningful" assault-weapons ban

Via Mediaite and NBC, a reminder to his base that he’d like to Do Something even though everyone realizes by now that very little will be Done. Quote:

President Barack Obama on Monday acknowledged that full implementation of his expected gun control proposals may be stonewalled in Congress but pledged to “vigorously pursue” recommendations from an administration task force, including a “meaningful” assault weapons ban.

“What you can count on is that the things that I’ve said in the past – the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, an assault weapons ban that’s meaningful – those are things I continue to believe make sense,” Obama said during the final press conference of his first term.

The key word is “meaningful.” If the new proposed AWB is anything like the old AWB, it’ll amount to a ban on scary-looking semiautomatic rifles, forcing America’s mass shooters and gang members t simply arm themselves to the teeth with semiautomatic pistols (or black-market semiautomatic rifles, of course) instead. Frank Fleming floats a compromise plan: For all the good that a new assault-weapons ban would do, why not just have the House and Senate pass strict new regulations on weapons that don’t exist?

What we can do is pass a law banning a bunch of made-up things that sound scary, and many gun control proponents already have great ideas along this line. For instance, I read a column in which Howard Kurtz mentioned a ban on high-magazine clips — we can certainly do without something that nonsensical. And I’ve heard the press before mention armor-piercing hollow points and plastic guns (actually, I think we already banned that made-up weapon in the ’80s). And as long as the NRA and Wayne LaPierre go apoplectic about it (“This ban on sorcerer-enchanted guns is just a slippery slope toward eliminating all witch-hexed weaponry!”), gun control proponents won’t know the difference between this and actual gun control. And this will help protect our most vulnerable people out there: politicians. Because long after the gun control advocates move on to other things, like who they want to tax next, gun owners will still be annoyed by any actual gun control legislation. One of the greatest fears politicians have is seeing an angry guy with lots of guns charging down the street, because they know he’s probably on his way to commit an act of voting.

Chuck Schumer sent a letter to gun retailers this weekend asking them to suspend sales while Congress hashes this out, which sounds insane given how high demand is right now but makes sense in the context of administration cronyism. The White House has shown it’s not above cutting deals that benefit big business when passing new regulations; if Walmart plays nice with Schumer and Obama now, they may benefit in whatever bill eventually comes to the Senate floor this month or in the future, when Democrats are in a better position to pass something.

Exit question via ABC and National Journal: Why is Obama risking so much political capital on gun-control legislation when nothing major will pass and it risks becoming a distraction for his second term? He’s going to ask purple-state Senate Democrats to take tough votes on Chuck Hagel and immigration reform. Why make them take one on gun control too? The answer, I think, is that the Hagel and immigration votes aren’t as tough as people think. Hagel will get a few Republican votes, and in any event public ire over cabinet appointments rarely lasts. Immigration is dicier but that’ll get some GOP support too after November’s drubbing among Latinos. In fact, I’m curious to see how far grassroots conservatives are willing to go this time in punishing congressional Republicans for voting yes on a multi-step amnesty. Is that primary-worthy, or have changing demographics now reached the point where the optics of trying to oust a Republican for supporting an immigration bill are too dangerous?

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