It's "game on" between President
With parents of a
He doesn't just pay lip service to the cause, as so many Democrats have since suffering staggering losses at the polls in 1994 after voting in favor of a ban on assault weapons. The words "gun control" have scarcely passed their lips ever since.
Mr. Obama, rather, has reached down and grabbed this electrified third rail of American politics. Fate presented him few options, really. The slaughter of innocents at Newtown happened on his watch. But he might have been cautious in his reaction — and, to his everlasting credit, he hasn't been.
He quickly appointed Vice President
On Wednesday, saying "We've suffered too much pain," and noting that 900 people in this country have died by gun since the Dec. 14 Newtown massacre, Mr. Obama unveiled a public advocacy and education campaign meant to change hearts and minds about gun violence.
Here, in brief, are major elements of the president's plan:
•Require universal background checks for anyone buying a gun to keep weapons out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
•Restore the ban on military-style assault weapons, ban magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and ban possession of armor-piercing bullets. Nobody needs that much firepower for hunting.
•Make schools safer by helping communities that want school resource officers and
•Improve mental health services by making access to treatment and coverage available to the people — especially young people — who need it.
Some of what the president wants to do — such as creating a model school emergency plan — can be accomplished by executive action. Much of it — important elements such as banning high-capacity magazines — requires congressional action.
The plan is something a modern, stable democracy with a gun problem ought to be able to undertake without falling apart. And recent polls suggest that the needle has moved toward taking action since the Newtown tragedy.
Majorities of the public in several polls favor universal background checks on gun purchasers — an effective way of keeping guns out of the wrong hands — bans on high-capacity magazines and bans on the sale or possession of military-style assault weapons (in that order). That's heartening. Even the old
But apparently the needle hasn't moved in
In fact, Senate Majority Leader
But Mr. Reid is only a bit player, really.
"The only way we can change things is if the American people demand it," Mr. Obama said Wednesday with regard to his plan to reduce gun violence.