In general, I share Andrew Cuomo's pro-gun-control agenda. But I regret that he used the word "confiscation" in a radio interview yesterday in response to a question on guns, because it rallies the opposition while getting us no closer to more intelligent gun regulation:
... Cuomo told Albany's WGDJ-AM that while gun control hasn't been on the docket recently, he plans to reach out to state legislators and eventually submit a proposal for new laws. One of his stated goals is to change state laws regarding the possession of so-called "assault" weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines....Cuomo's blowing smoke. Cuomo knows he's blowing smoke because the mostly rural state Republican Party has control of the state Senate, thanks to a handful of rogue Democrats (a coup Cuomo has done nothing to prevent).
The governor then laid out several ideas for how the state would enforce stricter laws on those so-called "assault" weapons: "Confiscation could be an option. Mandatory sale to the state could be an option. Permitting could be an option -- keep your gun but permit it," he said.
I suppose Cuomo sees this as a negotiating tactic -- it's an opening bid that's far to the left of what he'll gladly accept -- but, as President Obama learns in every time he negotiates with Republicans on anything, that tactic only works if the people you're negotiating with fear the consequences of not arriving at a compromise with you. If the people you're negotiating with are absolutists and/or nihilists, and if you don't have an angry mob that can and will punish those people at the polls if they don't yield on their extreme positions, then they have no reason to budge. That's why D.C. Republicans never yield, and it's why Republicans in the New York state legislature won't yield either. (The only punishment they fear is from their own angry mob, which is real, and which will punish them if they go wobbly. For comparison, look at the gay marriage fight: four Republicans in the state Senate voted to put marriage equality over the top, and three of those four didn't survive to serve another term.)
So Cuomo mouthed off -- and now his use of a red-flag-to-a-bull word is going to be waved at gun-control advocates every single time we ever try to advocate for any change in any law in any way, however small or incremental, even if it's far from New York State. We are now all Andrew Cuomo, forever. All of us now want to take all their guns, and anything we ever want to do is a smokescreen for that agenda. Just ask Jazz Shaw, writing at Hot Air about Cuomo's remarks:
It's one of the most common refrains coming from the "reasonable discussion" crew as they pave the way for upcoming gun control legislation. Whether we hear it from the clucking tongues of guests on Morning Joe or from their legions of supporters on the web, the patter is the same. "No one is coming for your guns." You're all just being paranoid, disingenuous or worse. All we're talking about is making little children safer. There’s not going to be anybody kicking down your doors.Shaw goes on to quote Cuomo, but, as backup, he gives us that extra link, the one on the phrase "don't seem to be able to stay on message." Did you click on it? It's a post by a Daily Kos diarist titled "Yes Conservatives, We Want to Take Away Your Guns..." But here's what the diarist means by that:
(Of course, some very high profiles voices on the Left don't seem to be able to stay on message.)
We liberals really do want to take away your guns and never let you have them back.That's the horrible, unreasonable, jackbooted-fascist secret liberal gun-grabbing agenda.
If your gun is an UZI
If you are using a gun with an extended clip...we want to take your gun
If you are concealing a high powered automatic weapon designed to best law enforcement...we want to take your gun away from you.
If you are a mentally unstable student or postal worker...we want your gun right now!
If you are currently intoxicated with alchohol or some other drug...give us your gun, right now.
If you have a criminal record...you may not have a gun, hand it over and never ask for it back
If you are angry at your spouse and it's a hot summer night and you just stumbled into a gun shop...You may not buy a gun today, you must wait 72 hours from today to buy your gun so go to a hotel/motel and think about what we just saved you from...we don't want you to have a gun!!
Oh, and did I mention that what Cuomo is proposing pretty much what Australia has done with semiautomatic and automatic rifles and shotguns, with great success, under conservative prime minister John Howard, a policy that Rupert Murdoch has praised?
The gun fetishists are are arguing that gun-control supporters are the only extremists in the debate -- an argument that will sound reasonable to much of the country. Meanwhile, some in the "liberal media" are determined to get the gun issue safely back into "Both sides do it!" territory.
Here's Ross Douthat:
FOR a week after the Newtown shooting, the conversation was dominated by the self-righteous certainties of the American center-left. In print and on the airwaves, the chorus was nearly universal: the only possible response to Adam Lanza's rampage was an immediate crusade for gun control, the necessary firearm restrictions were all self-evident, and anyone who doubted their efficacy had the blood of children on his hands.Yes, Bloomberg and LaPierre are equally extreme, according to Douthat.
The leading gun control chorister was Michael Bloomberg, and this was fitting, because on a range of issues New York's mayor has become the de facto spokesman for the self-consciously centrist liberalism of the Acela Corridor elite.... [Bloomberg's] bedrock assumption is that the liberal paternalism with which New York is governed can and should be a model for the nation as a whole.
It's an assumption that cries out to be challenged by a thoughtful center-right....
But instead of a kind of skepticism and sifting from conservatives, after a week of liberal self-righteousness the spotlight passed instead to ... Wayne LaPierre. And no Stephen Colbert parody of conservatism could match the National Rifle Association spokesman's performance on Friday morning.
And Craig R. Whitney, a former Timesman and self-described liberal, would apparently agree -- or certainly agree that Cuomo and LaPierre are equally extreme -- judging from this review of his new book, Living with Guns: A Liberal's Case for the Second Amendment:
In [Whitney's] estimation, that stalemated debate is the fault of uncompromising extremists on both sides. "Gun confiscation is a shibboleth that brings together everybody on the gun-rights side," he says, "just as it is a chimera dreamed of by all on the gun-control side." But this is a false equivalence. Not only does the gun-rights side, in the form of the National Rifle Association, have exponentially more political power than the gun-control side, the gun-rights side is also much more radical. After all, the shibboleth of gun confiscation that the N.R.A. uses to such great effect in stoking the fears of its members is a shibboleth precisely because most gun-control advocates don't seek it, instead favoring far more modest regulations, like increased background checks and better data collection.Even this reviewer, who is skeptical of Whitney's arguments, seems to agree that it certainly would be extreme to talk about confiscation. That seems to be true even for strictly limited classes of weapons or weapon owners, never mind the fact that such a plan would meet with the approval of Rupert Murdoch and John Howard. You just can't say such things in public.
And that's where we stand now: LaPierre and his army, extremist in everything they say or do, vs. Cuomo, who made one provocative proposal, and Bloomberg, who's made none. The conclusion we're trending toward: both sides are equally extreme.