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What Next for Gun Policy?



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President Obama was incredulous at the speed of his gun-control agenda’s demise this week. Seemingly still in campaign mode, he posed in the Rose Garden flanked by gun-crime victims and denounced the Senate for rejecting all three points of his grand gun control plan. The Senate gun-control bill isn’t buried yet, but rigor mortis is setting in. Obama swears he’ll bring the fight again. Harry Reid threatened that with the next mass shooting, he’ll put gun control back before the Senate.

It’s personal for the president now. Secure in his last term, he was sure he could advance the cause of gun prohibition he had so long delayed. He waged a hard, high-profile battle for four months, proving himself to be the president most hostile to the Second Amendment and spending political capital as though it were Other Peoples’ Money. He will likely see nothing to lose by starting the push all over again “when the time is right,” to paraphrase the defeated Senator Dianne Feinstein.

But will the time be right anytime soon? The president insists that 90 percent of the American public want background checks on gun purchasers. Have 90 percent of the voters ever agreed on anything, especially an issue as contentious as gun policy? In the only poll that matters, Senator Feinstein’s resurrected “assault weapon” ban, the standard-capacity magazine ban, and finally the desperate Toomey-Manchin compromise on background checks were all soundly rejected. It happened in a Democrat-controlled Senate, and the vote wasn’t even close.

The public has had four months to overcome the grief and shock of Newtown and to let logic reassert itself. Indeed, gun prohibitionists wanted to rush their agenda into law before people came to their senses. They succeeded on the state level in New York, and now the nation sees the early results — decent citizens hounded by their government for no good reason, businesses considering moving out of state, and lasting ill will.

With the exception of the special cases of New York and California, the nation seems to have heard the case for strict regulation of the average American gun owner and rejected it. The passions of the mob are spent, and the finality of this week’s Senate deliberations tells us that America has had enough for now.

Yes, heaven help us, there will be another mass shooting. And once again gun prohibitionists won’t wait for the funerals to be over before waving the bloody shirt for gun control. But this time it won’t take four months for America to turn away in disgust.

— Timothy Wheeler is director of Doctors for Responsible Gun Ownership, a project of the Second Amendment Foundation.



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