The gun control debate has shown the president again to be hopelessly detached as a legislative mechanic and ineffectual as a shaper of public opinion. Before writing rhetorical checks that his own party’s majority leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, couldn’t cash, the president might have at least consulted with the wily old son-of-a-gun about what was plausible and adjusted accordingly. He might have taken into consideration Reid’s ribbon-cutting ceremony with National Rifle Association honcho Wayne LaPierre at the Clark County Shooting Park in Las Vegas in 2010…
The president’s push for new gun laws looks, at this juncture, like a complete fizzle. He has failed to sway red-state Democrats and failed to maintain the heightened public support for new gun control laws. The most concrete effect of his advocacy has been, if the anecdotal evidence is to be believed, to stoke increased gun purchases on fears that the government wants to ban guns. He set out to lead a great crusade for gun control and ended up the best friend the gun industry ever had.
National Rifle Association vice president Wayne LaPierre said Tuesday that there was no evidence smaller magazines would have resulted in fewer deaths at the Newtown, Conn., elementary school where 20 children and six educators were killed late last year.
“People that know guns — you can change magazine clips in a second,” LaPierre told Fox News. “There’s no evidence that anything would have changed.”
“The fact is, if you’re a homeowner though, and you have someone coming through your door in the middle of the night, why should you be limited to three rounds or four rounds like [New York City] Mayor [Michael] Bloomberg wants to do?” LaPierre said. “A third of robberies involve multiple intruders and people want them for the same reason police want them, for the same reason Capitol Hill is protected by them. Why should you be limited to what some politician believes is reasonable?”
According to the survey, 48 percent said they believed the government could use background check records to seize guns, while 38 said the government could not. Ninety-one percent favored background checks anyway, and only 8 percent are opposed.
“In every Quinnipiac University poll since the Newtown massacre, nationally and in six states, we find overwhelming support, including among gun owners, for universal background checks,” Quinnipiac University Polling Institute Assistant Director Peter A. Brown said in a statement.
“American voters agree with the National Rifle Association, however, that these background checks could lead someday to confiscation of legally-owned guns.”
[Obama] conflates a failed background check with stopping a criminal from obtaining a gun. “Over the past 20 years,” Obama says, “background checks have kept more than 2 million dangerous people from buying a gun.” That claim is based on two faulty assumptions: 1) that everyone who fails a background check is dangerous, which plainly is not true, given the ridiculously broad categories of people who are legally barred from buying firearms, and 2) that a criminal intent on obtaining a weapon will give up if he cannot get it over the counter at a gun store, rather than enlisting a straw buyer or turning to the gray or black market…
He says there is no logical connection between “universal background checks” and gun registration. “We’re not proposing a gun registration system,” Obama insists. “We’re proposing background checks for criminals.” But there is no way to enforce a background-check requirement for every gun transfer unless the government knows where the guns are. Federally licensed gun dealers are readily identified and can be required to keep sale records. Individual gun owners who might dare to sell their property without clearance from the government cannot be identified unless the government compiles a list of them. Hence Obama’s assurances amount to saying, “Don’t worry. We will make a big show of passing this new background-check mandate, but we won’t really enforce it.”
Despite a major push from the White House, more states have cut back on gun regulations rather than pass gun-control reforms in the wake of the mass shootings in Newtown, Conn., The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
Five states—New York, Colorado, Mississippi, Utah and Wyoming—have enacted seven new laws tightening restrictions on guns since Dec. 14, when a gunman shot 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School before turning the weapon on himself. A sixth state, Connecticut, passed the toughest gun laws in the nation this week, banning some types of semi-automatic weapons and requiring all gun buyers to undergo background checks before purchases. (Gov. Dan Malloy is expected to sign the bill into law on Thursday.)
I asked noted futurist Newt Gingrich today about the possibilities of the 3-D printing movement, and whether they made gun bans irrelevant.
“This is one of these things we’re fascinated with,” he said. “If I can find a cheap one, I’m giving [nephew] Robert a 3-D printer for his birthday. The fact is that I think the F-35 has 800 parts that can be manufactured by 3-D manufacturing. 3-D printing is really beginning to be a really sophisticated thing. The question is: How do you think you’re going to control it? I have a 3-D printer. I decide to make gun magazines. You tell me, gee, there’s a federal law against that. You’re going to fine me? They can’t find the guys who are killing each other in Chicago, but you’ll have to register your 3-D printer? I think we’re right at the tipping point of a world that is amazingly different. We have almost no political conversation about it.”
“You don’t have a good argument,” Matthews pressed.
“What you want is control,” Pratt said.
“I’m a pretty libertarian guy on things,” Matthews replied.
“We don’t trust people like you,” Pratt countered.
I could be wrong on both counts, but it seems to me that politics are factoring heavily into decisions about which voices get promoted, and which don’t. In January, MSNBC featured Neil Heslin’s testimony heavily, while Fox News only reported it as a by-product of their outrage over MSNBC’s coverage of it. At the same time, Fox News played over four minutes of Mattioli’s testimony, while MSNBC ignored it, and CNN barely mentioned it.
I’m not sure if Mark Mattioli has made himself available to the media for interviews, but if so, then cable news shows ought to start booking him. Guns are an inherently political issue, but as Mattioli said at that press conference, we shouldn’t play politics with the safety of our children, and we shouldn’t play politics when deciding which of their parents’ voices we’re willing to listen to.