One starfish at a time, Mr. Vice-President:
Biden Is Back for a 2nd Run at Gun Limits
… A president intent on pressing Congress to restrict access to high-powered guns could hardly find a more seasoned figure to take charge of the effort. Mr. Biden, who owns two shotguns, brings decades of experience and plenty of scar tissue from past battles with the National Rifle Association to frame recommendations that Mr. Obama wants ready by next month.
“He’s basically been doing this for a little over 30 years,” said former Senator Ted Kaufman of Delaware, a longtime Biden adviser who was appointed to fill out his term. “I really do believe there isn’t anybody in America who has a better chance of getting this done by Jan. 15 than he does, not just because of his background in guns but because he’s not politically intimidated by the N.R.A., to put it mildly.” …
What Mr. Biden knows is that gun control is not only a fiercely emotional topic for many Americans but also a tricky area for legislation. The assault weapons ban he helped pass in 1994 was written narrowly enough that it allowed plenty of guns to still be sold. Moreover, a 10-year expiration clause was added as a compromise. Democrats went on to lose control of Congress that fall, a defeat that many attributed to the gun law, leaving the party skittish ever since.
This time, Mr. Biden wants to tighten the strictures, but to succeed he needs to get legislation through a Republican-controlled House. And even if he and Mr. Obama can persuade Congress to ban the sale of new semiautomatic rifles, more than three million AR-15 rifles are already in private hands, according to the National Shooting Sports Foundation…
Mr. Biden was at the White House when the Newtown massacre occurred. With the shootings coming just days before the 40th anniversary of the car accident that killed his first wife and baby daughter, an aide said, “all he could think about was those parents getting the same devastating phone call” that he once did…
Mr. Kaufman acknowledged that actually banning guns was difficult. As soon as one gun is outlawed, another pops up. But he argued that symbolism itself was important. “You send a message,” he said, “when you don’t do anything.”
What’s on the agenda for the ongoing slow countdown towards the start of another calendar year?