Excuse us, Mr. President, for looking askance at a remark straight out of fantasyland.
The evidence in the weeks following the Sandy Hook massacre points to a process that has been highly aware of politics. The quick assembly of a task force led by Vice President Joe Biden, the inclusion of many voices from all sides of the issue, the ramped-up timetable for presenting policy proposals and the foreshadowing that Obama will use executive orders if Congress drags its feet all illustrate that the White House understands the politics at play.
The current state of the nation’s gun laws didn’t get where it’s at without politics, and it won’t be reformed without politics, either.
U.S. gun laws reflect a sustained effort by the National Rifle Association and others to promote as few restrictions as possible on gun ownership. In the 1970s, the NRA began a quest to enshrine the Second Amendment as an individual right as opposed to one for the possibility of forming a militia.
“It was an uphill struggle,” The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Toobin recently wrote of the effort. “At first, their views were widely scorned. Chief Justice Warren E. Burger, who was no liberal, mocked the individual-rights theory of the amendment as ‘a fraud.’”
Yet it was the NRA — and not Burger — who had the last laugh.
Approximately three-quarters of Americans say the Second Amendment is an individual right, several recent polls indicate. In 2008, the conservative activists on the U.S. Supreme Court enshrined gun ownership as an individual right by expanding a narrow case about handgun ownership in the District of Columbia.
Today, the NRA is preparing for a fresh battle over Obama’s anticipated proposals to slow down gun violence in the United States. Don’t be surprised if Obama’s foes paint his attempts as those of a tyrant attempting to confiscate guns.
The NRA knows a thing or two about politics. It went to periscope depth in the week following the Newtown, Conn., shooting last month, shutting down its social media operation and staying off the airwaves. When its leaders emerged, they blamed portrayals of violence from the entertainment industry and a lack of armed “good guys” at U.S. schools, and they had nothing to say about how so much firepower ended up in the hands of the Sandy Hook shooter. The NRA has derided Biden’s task force as having “an agenda to attack the Second Amendment.”
As we see it, both sides here are gearing up for a massive battle where politics are at the forefront, and both sides will be talking — and probably yelling — past each other on a an issue where common-sense solutions are needed.