The Democrats have officially placed all of their eggs in Hillary Clinton’s basket as of last night and pinned their hopes and dreams on her for the general election. This includes their fervent belief in the need for tougher gun control laws. But with the primary out of the way and the general election looming, will she come through for them? Some of their spokespeople certainly seem to think so. (The Hill)
Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), a gun owner who heads the Democrats’ gun violence prevention task force, delivered a similar message Tuesday, saying Clinton’s dedication to the issue has given advocates fresh hope they can break a long-standing congressional impasse and adopt tougher gun laws if she wins the White House.
“This is the first presidential nominee, in my lifetime, that came out talking about responsible gun laws,” Thompson said following a gun reform rally on a sweltering morning in downtown Philadelphia. “That’s huge in itself.”
There’s an obvious explanation for what Clinton’s been up to on this issue, but Senator Chris Murphy tried to sweep it under the rug.
“There were a lot of cynics who said, ‘Hillary Clinton’s going to drop this issue once the primary was over.’ That this was just a means to create a wedge with Sen. Sanders,” said Murphy, who has become Congress’s best-known gun control advocate since the 2012 shooting in Newtown, Conn.
“They were wrong.”
But that’s exactly what’s been going on. Hillary Clinton was, as usual, ready to say or do anything to beat back the challenge posed by Bernie Sanders, and gun control was one area where he was seen as weak among the progressive wing of the party. With that in mind, Clinton was all gun control all the time. But this is nothing new. Hillary Clinton has taken both sides on this issue for as long as she’s been in politics. You’ll recall that Clinton was so “concerned” about protecting the rights of gun owners during her first run at the presidency that Barack Obama referred to her as Annie Oakley. But the political winds have changed a bit since then, and so have Clinton’s deeply held beliefs.
But if she does stick to these positions there is trouble awaiting Clinton in November. What’s tempting the Democrats to be thrown into this trap is the background check question. And it’s absolutely true that you can get large numbers of Americans to respond in the affirmative when asked about increased background checks. But here’s the thing about that question: Americans hearing only about background checks approach the question in their minds as one of stopping the bad guys from getting guns. And why shouldn’t they? Nobody wants that to happen. But that same response comes with the caveat that the good guys will still be able to exercise their Second Amendment rights.
A closer examination of their proposals will show that they do virtually nothing to keep guns out of the hands of criminals while making life more difficult (if not impossible) for responsible gun owners. Any competent candidate will be able tear that argument to shreds in a general election debate and the consistent majority of Americans who find gun ownership rights more important than gun control won’t be pleased. Clinton’s team is smart enough to know this, so with all due respect to Senator Murphy, I wouldn’t expect Hillary to come through for you. Once this convention is over and she’s in full general election campaign mode, much of the gun control issue will be discarded, just as she’s done with so many other issues over the course of her career.