Saturday, August 18, 2012

Guns: Lost Opportunity?

It seems to me that Obama missed a golden political opportunity on gun control to seize the center and box Romney in, as well as look Presidential and bipartisan. Here's how that might have gone:

"The tragedy in Aurora is forcing us as a nation to talk about the issue of guns. There are at lot of temptations not to. This s a very politically divisive issue. Some people who are gun owners are convinced that people on the other side want to take away their guns.

"Perhaps they do. That's completely beside the point. The way American democracy is supposed to work, and the way it used to work, is that people will have differences, but sometimes they set those differences aside to focus on things they agree on. And there are substantial areas of agreement that we should be acting on.

"The main obstacle to action is the leaders of the National Rifle Association. The NRA leadership holds positions that are far more extreme than most of its members. A recent poll of current and former NRA members found that 74 percent favored background checks for gun buyers, 63 percent believe concealed-carry permits should be limited to those over 21, and 71 percent believe those on the terrorist watch list should not be able to buy guns. Those positions do not agree with the positions of the NRA's leadership.

"Yet many legislators would tremble like a leaf at the thought of voting for any bill opposed by the NRA. NRA ratings of legislators' voting records carry weight with members, perhaps because they don't realize how extremist an organization it has become. They may think a candidate with a 100 percent rating from the NRA  is better than one with a 95 percent rating, not realizing that the different might be that one candidate voted to keep people on the terrorist watch list from getting guns.

"The. fact is, there's agreement among a large majority of Americans that some measures are necessary to keep dangerous weapons from getting into the wrong hands. If we can't debate this publicly, and then take action, what can we do? What hope is there for American democracy?"

This puts Romney on the spot, and probably leaves him retreating into yet another verbal fogbank. Does he favor letting people on the terrorist watch list get guns or not?

That's the short-term electoral calculus. The longer-term policy calculus is that the Overton Window on guns has shifted far to the right, and will probably continue doing so until someone calls out the NRA as an extremist organization.

No comments:

Post a Comment