As I've watched gun control advocates at work in Washington since the Sandy Hook shootings, I've sometimes asked myself, "Are the optimists right? Is it really different this time? When I express skepticism about the potential for a real turnaround on the gun issue in D.C., am I just reverting to knee-jerk gloom?"
I think I have my answer:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday he will not include a renewal of the federal assault weapons ban in a Senate gun control bill because it could not win even 40 votes on the Senate floor.Feinstein will apparently get to offer the ban as an amendment to the main gun control bill, but it won't pass. Politico says that bill will probably include a tightening of background checks, but it's not clear whether even the Senate can pass a background check provision that isn't toothless (if background checks are required for private sales but no records are required to be kept for the sales, how can the bill possibly work?). Oh, and Senate minority leader John Cornyn opposes any change in the law on background checks, much less an assault weapons ban.
"Right now her amendment using the most optimistic numbers has less than 40 votes," Reid told reporters on Tuesday. "That's not 60. I have to get something on the floor so we can have votes on that issue and the other issues we talked about." ...
I said it in December and I was right: we're not going to get real change at the national level until the NRA is ACORN -- an organization so discredited that no politician ever wants to be associated with it. Years ago, even pols like John McCain supported ACORN; the NRA needed to suffer that level of decrease in its credibility. At the very least, it needed to become like the ACLU post-Dukakis -- a group you're not allowed to affiliate yourself with if you seek credibility in Middle America.
After all of Wayne LaPierre's paranoid ranting and raving -- which I told you was not discrediting him -- 48% of Americans still saw the NRA in a positive light, according to one poll; 46% said the NRA better reflected their views on guns, as opposed to 41% who said President Obama did, according to another poll; yet another poll said that 44% of Americans trust Republicans on gun policy, vs. 42% for the president.
And yes, this was even as poll after poll showed overwhelming support for universal background checks, and broad support for other gun control measures.
I'm not angry at Harry Reid because he can read a poll -- as, presumably, can the seven Democratic senators running for reelection in 2014 in Romney states.
Once again, liberals spiked the football yards and yards from the goal line. We thought Wayne LaPierre looked crazy, so we assumed everyone did; we had a renewed determination to deal seriously with the availability of guns post-Sandy Hook, so we assumed everyone did.
Embracing blatantly liberal ideas still seems strange and unnatural to heartlanders. We still haven't figured out how to change that fact. Much of the liberal world still hasn't figured out that it's even a problem.
But it's our biggest problem, and we underestimated it again.