Buoyed by the perceived shift of the national mood, gun control advocates brought their demands to a fever pitch this week. But pushback from gun rights proponents also ramped up as the National Rifle Association, unusually subdued for the last few weeks, found its voice again.
“I want to make it clear that we are not going to get caught up in the notion (that) unless we can do everything we’re going to do nothing,” Vice President Joe Biden said of the mission of his gun violence task force. “It’s critically important (that) we act.”
“We are disappointed with how little this meeting had to do with keeping our children safe and how much it had to do with an agenda to attack the Second Amendment,” the NRA said in a statement after meeting with that task force.
A consensus seemed to be emerging that if Congress can get anything done, it will be a ban on high-capacity magazines and a tightening of background check requirements. There was a lot of talk about an assault weapons ban, but also growing doubt one could pass. There was one of those for 10 years – basically through the ’90s – and it had little effect on gun violence. Then, as now, there was confusion on what exactly an “assault” weapon is and which should and should not be covered by a ban.
Hinting that President Obama might not be happy about the prospects of congressional action, Biden said his boss might well just go around Congress with an executive order. It wasn’t exactly clear what the president could do without Congress, though. Ban the importation of certain weapons perhaps.
It was generally agreed that whatever is done will be mostly without effect. There are currently about 300 million guns in America, and no matter what is done about future weapons, the existing stockpile isn’t going anywhere.