After each horrendous mass shooting, the left is convinced “everything has changed” on the gun issue and gun control is around the corner. But it never quite happens. The Newtown, Conn., tragedy is no exception.
Why is the president likely to get only a sliver of the anti-gun measures he seeks?
1. He overreached by including ineffective measures, such as a ban on military-style assault weapons. Opponents seized on those measures to doom the whole package of proposals.
2. The president lost time by sending the issue to a “commission,” giving Second Amendment advocates time to organize.
3. President Obama never has been good at convincing Americans or getting bipartisan agreement on any policy item, whether the sequester or tax hikes. His constant campaigning and histrionics are off-putting and polarizing.
4. The president imagines that the GOP is the opposition on gun-control policies, but his biggest problem is red-state Democrats who are convinced he offers them no political insulation from irate gun owners.
5. The measures President Obama chose for the bill would not have prevented the Newtown massacre, a point that even the legislation’s proponents concede. That gives heft to to the argument that Newtown was a pretext for far-ranging gun measures the left long had sought.
6. The House waited and watched. The House’s GOP leadership has learned to force the Senate to ante up and put the screws on vulnerable Senate Democrats.
7. The president largely ignored the mental-health problem (i.e. how to keep guns from the disturbed young men who commit these horrible crimes) and entirely ignored violent media, revealing his proposals to be more about going after the NRA than stopping deranged mass-killers.
8. Republicans in the Senate don’t fear the president, and they sure don’t like him. And he has not been able to rally their constituents, either. His constant harping on Republicans and his assumption that they act out of ill will hamper his ability to get Republicans to bargain with him.
9. Obama never mentioned this issue in the campaign and, therefore, can claim no mandate.
10. There are a whole lot of law-abiding gun owners who don’t trust the government.
The last is perhaps the most important factor, too often ignored by the gun-averse media. The NRA succeeds because it has many, many members who feel strongly about the issue and see the ominous hands of government behind innocuous-sounding proposals (e.g. “background checks”). Just as liberals viscerally recoil from government regulation of marriage and abortion, conservatives do when it comes to guns.
The only thing surprising about this latest episode is that, like Charlie Brown and the football, the media are convinced each time that they’ll knock it through the uprights.