The Morning Joe/Marist poll confirms what I’ve suspected: There remains widespread support for sensible measures to curb gun violence. The survey also casts doubt on another poll that showed a dip in support for gun control. And it implicitly pushes back on the nutty contention that President Obama hasn’t done enough to keep any such slide from happening. As MSNBC’s Chuck Todd said this morning, the fact that gun control is still on the national agenda is due to the president.
The poll showed that 53 percent of Americans think it’s more important to “control gun violence” than to “protect gun rights” (44 percent). Sixty percent think laws governing firearms sales should be “more strict.” Fifty-nine percent support a ban on the sale of assault weapons, and 87 percent support background checks for “private gun sales and sales at gun shows.” The only area where Republicans solidly join Democrats and independents is on the question of background checks: 81 percent of Republicans support compared to 94 percent among Democrats and 86 percent among independents.
The slaughter of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School did more to shake the consciousness of this nation on the issue of gun violence than anything we’ve ever seen. But it has been the extensive (and emotional) use of the presidential bully pulpit by Obama that has kept the issue on the national agenda. His trip to Denver this afternoon and then to Connecticut on Monday only continue his effort to do as much as he can to get something done. Yet, too many folks, especially my media brethren, suffer from short-term memories.
Yesterday, White House press secretary Jay Carney was asked whether the president “regret[ed] at all not doing more events like the one he’s going to do tomorrow, the one he’s going to do on Monday.” Carney mentioned the prominence of gun violence at the State of the Union address where he demanded that the victims and their families “deserve a vote.” When the reporter pressed, Carney unfurled a litany of dates that should put the issue of presidential attention to rest.
MR. CARNEY: Right. Well, I mean, I have a list here that I can provide you of everything the President and the Vice President have done, and it’s quite extensive, and the dates are December 16th, December 19th, January 19th, January 16th, January 25th, January 28th, February 4th, February 11th, February 12th, February 15th, 19th, 20th, 21st, 27th. These are all presidential and vice presidential engagements or events regarding this very important issue.
And that doesn’t even include Obama’s forceful speech from the East Room last Thursday.
The president’s voice is loud, clear and consistent. He put Vice President Biden in charge of a task force to recommend changes to stem gun violence. Its work was completed in a month. The Senate will vote on measures when it reconvenes next week. And then they go to the House, where they face an uncertain fate.
To those who say Obama should have pushed right away to get an assault weapons ban and other tough legislation through Congress in December, I ask, what part of the “fiscal cliff” do you not remember?
Obama held a press conference at the White House on Dec. 19, five days after the Newtown massacre. His opening remarks focused solely on the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School and announced the Biden task force. But the first six questions from three reporters were about the fiscal cliff. That was the day after Speaker John Boehner shook up negotiations with the president by saying he had a “Plan B,” which would later fail to gain support from House Republicans. Given all this, folks still think Obama could have gotten gun-control legislation through Congress in December? Seriously?
At that December press conference, as he has at every appearance where he has talked about gun violence, Obama called for help.
I’m not going to be able to do it by myself. Ultimately if this effort is to succeed it’s going to require the help of the American people — it’s going to require all of you. If we’re going to change things, it’s going to take a wave of Americans … standing up and saying “enough” on behalf of our kids.
No doubt the president will repeat that call in Colorado today. So, when will all these folks who say it is more important to control gun violence stand up and say “enough” in numbers sufficient to get Congress to do something? It’s time they more visibly put their activism where their poll numbers are.
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