February 1, 2013

There’s still a lot of chatter out there about Gayle Trotter, the conservative activist who captured a lot of attention this week by arguing that putting limits on guns will disproportionately put women in more danger. Trotter told the tale of an Oklahoma woman who used her shotgun to ward off two intruders, and asserted that having a “scary looking gun,” i.e., an assault weapon, would give women “peace of mind” and “courage” when “facing three, four, five violent attackers.”

This morning Ruth Marcus has a terrific takedown of Trotter’s argument, pointing out that the statistics simply don’t support her case and that the Oklahoma anecdote is irrelevant to, you know, the gun reform proposals that are being actually discussed.

But there’s another angle here that needs attention: Women are overwhelmingly in favor of stricter gun laws, far more so than men are.

A recent CNN poll found that 86 percent of women either think guns should be illegal or should be subjected to major or minor restrictions. It found that 97 percent of women support universal background checks. Seventy four percent of women support an assault weapons ban, and 71 percent of women support banning high capacity magazines.

Meanwhile, a recent Post poll found that 59 percent of women support a nationwide ban on semi-automatic handguns, while 64 percent of women support banning high capacity magazines.

In her testimony, Trotter described guns as the great gender “equalizer,” adding: “I speak on behalf of millions of American women across the country who urge you to defend our Second Amendment right to choose to defend ourselves.”

Actually, many more millions of “American women,” far from wanting to arm themselves with “scary looking guns” for their own “peace of mind,” actually want to ban them. Judging by these polls, they reject Trotter’s dystopian worldview, a place where women need as much firepower as possible to protect themselves from the hordes of invaders forever on the verge of overrunning their homes. Instead, they see sensible gun regulations, such as the closing of the private seller loophole, as more likely to help keep them safe. As Amanda Marcotte recently put it:

People convicted of domestic violence aren’t allowed to buy guns, a sensible reaction to the realities of domestic violence and guns. Unfortunately, the private sale loophole makes it easy enough for a man who wants to stalk or control a woman to get the weapon to do so. If Trotter were truly concerned about preventing violence against women, she would be demanding an immediate closure of this loophole that allows batterers to avoid background checks when trying to buy guns. But she’s too busy imagining that women might have to fend off the zombie apocalypse to worry about the real dangers that ordinary women face in this country every day.

* Senators serious about reaching deal on immigration: Ashley Parker has an interesting look at how carefully Senators on both sides are treading in order to make immigration reform a reality this time around. Of particular note: Marco Rubio’s careful wooing of conservative media powerhouses. A funny tidbit about Chuck Schumer:

To show that he is serious about an overhaul, he explained, he is especially conscious of the language he uses; Mr. Schumer now refers to “illegal immigrants,” a term preferred by the right and an acknowledgment that the 11 million illegal immigrants currently in the country did, in fact, break the law. In a similar linguistic concession, Mr. Rubio, during Monday’s immigration news conference, referred to the “undocumented” workers, a term generally preferred by Democrats and loathed by his party’s conservative wing.

How nice! Of course, we’re not getting a deal until we resolve one of the main underlying policy issues — how much of an enforcement “trigger” Rubio (and the right) will demand in exchange for a path to citizenship.

* But many obstacles remain on immigration: The Post has a good overview of the tensions that have been set in motion on both sides by the path to citizenship provision. What’s getting lost in the discussion is that if Senate Dems negotiating with the GOP give away too much in the way of an enforcement trigger, Dems on the left will bolt.

Meanwhile, Marco Rubio is having an increasingly tough time selling leading conservatives on the path to citizenship, despite insisting he will win a very strict enforcement trigger. But has Rubio even clarified whether he will insist that the Southwestern border security commission’s recommendation be necessary before the citizenship path opens up? Seems he’s still being vague on this central point.

* A mixed jobs report: The monthly jobs report is in: 157,000 jobs added in January. This is a key nugget:

The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for November was revised from +161,000 to +247,000, and the change for December was revised from +155,000 to +196,000.

That’s good news, but unemployment went  up to 7.9 percent; so keep up the pressure on our public officials to shift the conversation to jobs. Meanwhile, Joe Weisenthal seizes on the upward revisions to declare the confidence fairy dead.

* More myths from the gun lobby: What if the assault weapons ban actually did work? The New York Times explains:

A long–range, independent study issued as Congress allowed the ban to expire in 2004 found criminal use of assault weapons had fallen by one-third or more as a share of gun crimes in major jurisdictions. The information is there if Congress is interested. After the ban expired, 37 percent of police departments reported noticeable increases in criminals’ use of assault weapons, according to a 2010 report by the Police Executive Research Forum.

The fact that many members of Congress — from both parties — have uncritically internalized claims that the ban was an utter failure is not so much testament to the NRA’s power as it is a sign of the willingness of lawmakers to be cowed by it.

* Dems may well hold on to John Kerry’s seat: It appears Scott Brown is getting cold feet about running for the seat of new Secretary of State John Kerry. Steve Kornacki has a nice piece gaming out the possibilities and explaining why Dems very well may hold this seat, given the politics of the state. All those fears may turn out to be ill-founded.

* The austerians got it wrong, everywhere: Paul Krugman continues pointing out that the austerians have been wrong all across the board, and are still frantically searching for one instance — any instance — that will prove that they were right all along. That has direct relevance to the coming battles over the sequester:

So what do we learn from the rather pathetic search for austerity success stories? We learn that the doctrine that has dominated elite economic discourse for the past three years is wrong on all fronts. Not only have we been ruled by fear of nonexistent threats, we’ve been promised rewards that haven’t arrived and never will. It’s time to put the deficit obsession aside and get back to dealing with the real problem — namely, unacceptably high unemployment.

I’m still hopeful that Obama will use his State of the Union speech to seize on the recent economic contraction to make an expansive case that growth is the way to combat the deficit, and about the relationship between government spending and economic recovery.

* Obama’s agenda is thoroughly mainstream: Jonathan Alter notes that for all the progressive aspirations and ideas in Obama’s Inaugural Address, the second term agenda it articulated was fundamentally mainstream:

With the exception of its first-ever mention of gay rights, the speech was essentially an eloquent rear-guard action defending the 20th-century consensus on the role of government.

Obama decisively won an election partly fought around this idea, and a recent Post poll found that 55 percent of moderates approved of his Inaugural.

* And R.I.P., Ed Koch: The former mayor of New York City has passed away, and Mike Tomasky accurately captures his true political legacy, good and bad:

He pretty perfectly embodied and personified the complicated and ultimately quite unhappy relationship between liberalism and the white ethnic urban middle class.

I grew up experiencing the tumult and crime that drove the tensions Tomasky writes about — ones that Koch was known to stoke himself more frequently than many will want to recall today. Koch long outlasted the city he presided over, which is now a very distant memory, but the tensions produced by the urban America of that era are still very much with us, though they are getting overtaken by the country’s continuing demographic transformation.

What else?

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.