Obama in Paris: Mass shootings just don't happen outside the United States

Via the Free Beacon, this would be like Ariel Sharon visiting Manhattan in October 2001 and casually observing that terrorism just doesn’t happen outside Israel.

What he means here, I assume, is that mass shootings don’t happen outside the U.S. with the frequency that they do here. (Either that or he’s categorizing the Planned Parenthood shooting differently from the clear-cut political terrorism that Paris saw a few weeks ago, which, if so, is waaaay off-script from the left’s “pro-lifers are terrorists” narrative this week.) And so we return to the evergreen question whenever he starts talking guns in the aftermath of a shooting: Which Democratic gun-control proposal would have made a material difference in the various mass shootings in America over the past few years? What’s the (ahem) magic bullet of policy that’s going to knock the number down by, say, 10-20 percent? If there’s anything good that might come from Obama focusing on guns in his final year, it’s the fact that, as a lame duck, he might be willing to be more candid in admitting that the left seeks nothing short of total confiscation of firearms. Not just semiautomatic rifles or “assault weapons,” not universal background checks, but a ban on all easily reloadable weapons. Loud-and-proud progressives will happily acknowledge that that’s the goal. For Obama, the calculus is trickier because Hillary will have to answer next year for anything he says now and he’s apt to trigger the mother of all buying sprees at gun stores if he makes any noises about confiscation. But who knows? This guy seems to be enjoying his lame-duck freedom to tell Americans how disappointing they are. Maybe it’s time for some “hard truths” about gun ownership too. If not, then we’ll have to wait until he’s out of office for the big revelation that, yes, he supports total confiscation.

While we’re on the subject, here’s a bold idea from Jill Lawrence. Should Democrats go to the mat for gun control right now by threatening to shut down the government if the GOP refuses to agree to universal background checks?

With three people murdered and nine injured by a shooter at a Planned Parenthood facility in Colorado Springs, six children robbed of a parent, with mass shootings a regular feature of American life and gun violence stealing lives every day, why not hold out for tighter gun laws? In a way it’s poetic justice. What could be more pro-life than trying to save lives?

No money for the government unless and until we have a truly universal system of background checks for gun buyers, one that covers purchases made online and at gun shows and keeps guns out of the hands of domestic abusers and suspected terrorists. And no money for the government unless and until Congress passes a bipartisan bill that would make sure the people who most need psychiatric help are getting it, that adequate hospital beds and outpatient treatment are available, and that families receive the information they need to help.

Tightening background checks polls exceptionally well, usually north of 80 percent, so there’s reason to think the public would respond to this semi-favorably. You can write the script yourself: “This is an extraordinary procedural tactic but our epidemic of gun violence has reached a point of extraordinary crisis.” (That’s not remotely true but it makes for good copy, huh?) The problem for Dems is that, although support for background checks is high, it’s not particularly intense; if it were, the GOP would have suffered in the 2014 midterms for blocking the Toomey/Manchin bill after Sandy Hook. And of course, shutting down the government would destroy five years of Democratic rhetoric that only political terrorists would dare hold funding for the federal government hostage to their policy agenda. Right now Democrats enjoy a natural advantage in the PR battle over shutdowns, namely, that the public will tend to blame the party that’s forever criticizing government for starving it of funds. If the party that’s forever defending expansions of government suddenly turns around and cuts off the money, that perception will be muddled — and maybe not just for the duration of this particular shutdown battle. The question is this: Are universal background checks really so important to the left that they’d risk major political capital to make it happen, knowing full well that a bill like that would have done next to nothing to stop most recent mass shootings?