Dems worry: Are we overplaying the gun-control hand?

Once again, the answer is obvious. Once again, the question probably comes too late — both for Democrats and for any kind of bipartisan effort to fix the real problems exposed in a mass shooting. Only after a week of demonizing law-abiding gun owners around the country and the NRA as child-killers for a crime to which they had no connection, Democrats have begun to worry that they may have gone too far, according to The Hill:

The party is galvanized behind the idea that Congress should take action on gun control, but faces warnings from some Democrats that reaching too far could drive away voters in the swing districts they’ll need to retake the Speaker’s gavel.

A number of rank-and-file lawmakers view this month’s shooting at a Parkland, Fla., high school as a potential tipping point in the years-long congressional stalemate over new gun restrictions. Shedding caution, this growing chorus of Democrats is calling for extensive reforms, including a ban on military-style weapons.

The bill itself demonstrates the problems Democrats face in dealing with issues outside of their own cultural experience. John noted last night that the bill would ban certain kinds of so-called “assault rifles,” but it may go a lot farther than that. The language in the bill could very well render all semi-automatic firearms illegal, even apart from the 205 specific weapons listed in the bill:

The bill prohibits the “sale, transfer, production, and importation” of semi-automatic rifles and pistols that can hold a detachable magazine, as well as semi-automatic rifles with a magazine that can hold more than 10 rounds. Additionally, the legislation bans the sale, transfer, production, and importation of semi-automatic shotguns with features such as a pistol grip or detachable stock, and ammunition feeding devices that can hold more than 10 rounds.

Almost every semi-automatic pistol has a “detachable magazine.” They have detachable magazines because they don’t have cylinders, which is what revolvers use. You have to detach the magazine to load ammunition into it, even if you only own one magazine per pistol. The only qualifier on this prohibition is that it applies to firearms “with a military-style feature,” which is left undefined. Does an improved sight (such as a laser sight) qualify as a “military-style feature,” even though it improves aim and makes the weapon safer to use in self-defense? Custom grips? Black-matte finish?

We don’t know, and it’s a safe bet that the people who wrote this bill know even less. Nor do they care; they want this bill to render most of the weapons held by legal gun owners illegal. It’s the basis for a massive gun grab.

And that’s the reason why some Democrats who understand cultural differences and political geography see a replay of the last four elections about to unfold:

“It’s one of those fundamental issues that riles up American politics — it’s up there with abortion and immigration — and they need to be very careful,” said a former Democratic leadership aide. “If a Democratic candidate, or the party as a whole, overextends on this issue, then it becomes incredibly easy for the Republicans to play that up in a lot of districts.

“It’s easier to demagogue on this than to do something about it,” the aide added, “and you risk overreaching as a party if you try to make it a one-size-fits-all [issue].”

This bill will be tremendously popular in the urban-coastal cores, which Democrats already hold. It’s not going to be popular at all outside of those progressive enclaves, where most of the 60-million-plus gun-owning households exist, and where voters know what a “detachable magazine” actually is. This bill and the Democratic hysteria getting whipped up behind it isn’t about fixing the problems that led to the Parkland school massacre — it’s a gun grab, pure and simple. It’ll be easy for “Republicans to play that up in a lot of districts” that Democrats need to win for a majority because it’s true.

Between “crumbs” and gun grabbing, Democrats really have set themselves up to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this midterm. If this bill goes nowhere, Democrats will likely run on the message that only a Democratic majority can get this bill passed. And you know what? Republicans will run on the exact same message. Good luck with that, Mrs. Pelosi.