The Washington Post

Obama’s gun proposals face divided Congress; a war between amendments?

Obama’s far-reaching gun-proposals face uncertain fate in divided Congress: “The gun-control agenda that President Obama unveiled with urgency on Wednesday now faces an uncertain fate in a bitterly divided Congress, where Republican opposition hardened and centrist Democrats remained noncommittal after a month of feverish public debate. By pursuing an expansive overhaul of the nation’s gun laws, Obama is wagering that public opinion has evolved enough after a string of mass shootings to force passage of politically contentious measures that Congress has long stymied.” (Washington Post)

The war between the amendments: “The horrific Newtown, Conn., mass shooting has unleashed a frenzy to pass new gun-control legislation. But the war over restricting firearms is not just between liberals and conservatives, it also pits the first two amendments to the U.S. Constitution against each other,” writes Hoover’s Victor Davis Hanson. (National Review)

Obama’s executive orders on guns better than his legislative proposals: “President Obama’s 23 executive orders generally take positive steps towards stopping gun violence – such as improving the background check system and increasing enforcement of gun crime – though I have federalism or privacy concerns about a few of them. His legislative proposals, however – banning “assault weapons” and restricting magazines to 10 rounds – are feel-good measures that fail to abide by the principle that should guide any lawmaking in this area: keeping guns out of the hands of those who would do ill while protecting law-abiding citizens’ constitutional rights to armed self-defense.  The guns that the Newtown shooter used, for example, complied with Connecticut’s extremely strict “assault weapon” ban and, in any event, the vast majority of murders are committed with handguns,” writes Cato’s Ilya Shapiro. (Cato)

This time, the moderate is willing to fight: “President Obama went big in offering a remarkably comprehensive plan to curb gun violence, and good for him. But his announcement Wednesday is only the beginning of a protracted struggle for national sanity on firearms. Extremists have controlled the debate on guns for many years. They will do all they can to preserve a bloody status quo. The irrationality of their approach must be exposed and their power broken,” writes Brookings’ E.J. Dionne. (Washington Post)

How will we deal with the dangerously mentally ill? “To be sure, the scientific view of mental illness poses huge challenges for how we think about law and the criminal justice system. Our legal system is designed to punish and isolate those who commit harmful actions, not unstable people who have yet to act. As we learn more about the biological markers of mental illness, there’s a slippery slope to the world of the film “Minority Report,” where prophecies of behavior are enough for “Precrime” squads to lock up dangerous people before they can do harm,” writes CAP’s Matt Miller. (Washington Post)

Room for Debate asks: Wherever you look, nations are trying to grow. American officials are once again at odds over how to rein in the federal deficit without slowing growth. In Europe, Greece has allowed mining projects, which could allow the economy to expand at a steep cost to the environment. And developing nations are striving to build up their economies in an effort to lift billions of people out of poverty. But is there a point at which nations should no longer strive to grow? What would be a better goal? (New York Times)

Hoover Institution’s Fouad Ajami: U.S. will leave Afghanistan to warlords and Taliban. (Bloomberg)

Heritage’s Michael Franc: Head Start: Still useless. (National Review)

AEI’s Michael Barone: No strategy to govern. (National Review)

Allen McDuffee writes about politics and policy and covered think tanks for The Washington Post from 2011 to 2013. He freelances and hosts a podcast at and is currently working on a book about the influence of think tanks in Washington.



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Allen McDuffee · January 16, 2013