Don't hold your breath for new gun laws

We’ve already seen the sadly inevitable rush to capitalize on the tragedy in Colorado as an excuse to start passing strict gun laws, ranging from Bloomberg to Rendell and more. But as we sort through the aftermath of the disaster and the victims begin to pick up the pieces, is this opportunism going to result in any new legislation along those lines? One study linked by the AP seems to indicate that the gun grabbing crowd may wind up being disappointed.

Once, every highly publicized outbreak of gun violence produced strong calls from Democrats and a few Republicans for tougher controls on firearms.

Now those pleas are muted, a political paradox that’s grown more pronounced in an era scarred by Columbine, Virginia Tech, the wounding of a congresswoman and now the shooting in a suburban movie theater where carnage is expected on-screen only.

“We don’t want sympathy. We want action,” Dan Gross, president of the Brady campaign said Friday as President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney mourned the dead.

As this look at history lays out, there was a time in the nineties when gun control garnered a lot more public support. A ten year ban was placed on certain types of rifles while Bill Clinton was in office and the Brady Campaign obviously felt like they were winning the day. But then, slowly but surely, the tide began to shift.

By 2004, when the assault weapon ban lapsed, congressional Democrats made no serious attempt to pass an extension. President George W. Bush was content to let it fade into history.

Public sentiment had swung.

According to a Gallup poll in 1990, 78 percent of those surveyed said laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter, while 19 percent said they should remain the same or be loosened.

By the fall of 2004 support for tougher laws had dropped to 54 percent. In last year’s sounding, 43 percent said they should be stricter, and 55 percent said they should stay the same or be made more lenient.

While many of the Democrats in this article bemoan the ascendency of the NRA in the modern era, the fact is that they have deftly handled a campaign of public awareness which has been winning support on both sides of the aisle. There are some cycles where their financial support to campaigns has been almost exclusively to the GOP. This year 12% of their donations went to Democrats. And the far Left side of the Hill hasn’t been able to swing anything close to a majority of their own members to take a big stand on this. Obama himself said we must protect our 2nd amendment rights after the tragedy. The issue is simply too politically toxic.

This isn’t to say that 2nd amendment supporters shouldn’t be vigilant in the weeks and months ahead. But I also don’t think it’s time to panic.