Obama’s Gun Law Wish List

Serwer looks on as Republicans “vigorously oppose imaginary Obama gun proposals”:

Republicans were primed to expect a gun grab. Prominent conservatives like Matt Drudge have made historically obtuse warnings that Obama, like Adolf Hitler and Josef Stalin, is bent on disarming the population (presumably prior to building a gulag and engaging in genocide). But rather than of banning guns by fiat, the White House’s list of executive actions consists mostly of practical or symbolic measures, containing lots of phrases like “release a letter,” “start a national dialogue” and “provide incentives.” It’s not exactly the stuff dictatorships are made of, but Obama’s imaginary executive actions on guns are certainly more exciting than the ones he actually proposed.

Massie’s view:

The measures Obama has announced are chiefly of symbolic value. That’s important, not least because it would have been impossible, in the aftermath of this kind of horror, for the President to do nothing at all. But there is a limit to what symbolic measures can realistically be expected to achieve. All this is, of course, pretty depressing. But unless the culture changes we should not expect there to be any great decrease in American gun violence.

Douthat wrestles with the president’s proposals:

[T]he best idea in the president’s proposals is probably his call to beef up the existing background check requirement so that it covers private sales as well as licensed dealers — a proposal that some of the smartest conservative writers on guns have cautiously endorsed as well. Again, given the experience of the Brady Law, the impediments to enforcement, and the relative ease of black market buying in a country with 300 million guns, I am extremely doubtful that background checks would have much impact on crime. But the modest delays (perhaps too modest, in an age of instant checks!) and inconveniences they introduce might well make a difference to someone in a downward spiral, giving them a chance to seek help, think again, or reconsider gun ownership entirely.

Wilkinson doubts Congress will pass new gun regulations:

Even with the small shift in public opinion following the Newtown tragedy, it remains unlikely that Mr Obama’s legislative proposals to ban large clips, to ban guns with certain cosmetic features, or to end the gun-show exception to mandatory background checks, will make it through Congress. Even if they do, mass shootings are going to continue to be a horrifying fact of American life. As Lexington wrote on the day of the tragedy, “I am not sure that tinkering with gun control will stop horrible massacres like today’s. And I am pretty sure that the sort of gun control that would work—banning all guns—is not going to happen.” Indeed,according to Gallup, American opposition to an outright ban on handguns is at a “record high”

Ezra sees one way new gun laws could become law:

The assault weapons ban could suck up all the attention only to die toward the end of the process, when Republicans and centrist Democrats kill the proposal in order to remain in the NRA’s good graces. That will infuriate supporters of gun control, but it could help the laundry list of proposals behind the assault weapons ban to slip through as a compromise package. The result won’t necessarily feel like a victory to supporters of gun control, but it might be one, and it wouldn’t be possible if the assault weapons ban wasn’t available to be thrown overboard.