LaPierre won. He kept the gun debate in the gun community's comfort zone, at a time when we thought it might change.
Is it possible that the reaction to Donald Trump's pronouncements on immigration will follow the same trajectory?
Republican politicians and the right-wing media haven't seemed nearly as ready to rally around Trump as they were to close ranks with the NRA -- being pro-gun is mandatory on the right, whereas some conservatives want to do outreach to Hispanic voters. But now we're reckoning with the killing of Kathryn Steinle on San Francisco's waterfront on July 1. The latest news is this:
The gun used to kill a 32-year-old woman on San Francisco’s waterfront was stolen from a federal agent in a car burglary in June, sources close to the investigation said Tuesday....Republican presidential candidates, apart from Trump and Ted Cruz, may not want to talk about this case for fear of alienating Hispanic voters they might want in November 2016, but the right-wing media seems to want to turn Steinle into the new Chris Stevens, and this killing into the new Benghazi. Right now, 5 of the 25 stories on the Fox Nation homepage are about this killing. The main Fox News homepage looks like this:
Juan Francisco Lopez-Sanchez was charged with murder and other crimes in connection with Steinle’s killing. Lopez-Sanchez, who is suspected of being in the U.S. without documentation and had been deported five times to his native Mexico, pleaded not guilty Tuesday.
I don't know how the GOP presidential field is going to respond to the Steinle killing. I think it's possible that you're going to get soothing words about Hispanic immigrants from some of the candidates even as they rail against sanctuary cities. Or maybe the field (Jeb Bush and George Pataki probably excepted) will just give up on Hispanic outreach the way Republicans in Congress did and just conclude that tapping into white anger is the only viable route to electoral victory. (That will happen if Trump gains even more ground in the next round of polls, and perhaps if Cruz gains ground as well.) I think Trump really might walk away from this having steered the debate in his direction -- just like Wayne LaPierre.