Greg Sargent does not believe that the House and Senate GOP can stand up to the overwhelming agreement among American voters that universal background checks are needed for purchasing firearms:
Every member of Congress, Democrat and Republican, needs to be asked this question: Do you believe people should be able to buy guns in America without undergoing a background check designed to prevent criminals and the mentally ill from getting their hands on lethal weapons that can ultimately be used in crimes and mass killings?
In one sense, this is arguably the most important question at the heart of the gun debate. But it’s being obscured by the widespread media focus on the assault weapons ban. To read many accounts is to come away believing that the assault ban is the centerpiece of Obama’s package of initiatives — and that because the ban faces a tough road in Congress, Obama’s whole proposal is doooooomed.
OK, I’ll bite. Why not, Greg?
There’s a lot of chatter to the effect that the House GOP leadership won’t allow a vote on any of Obama’s proposals. In the case of background checks, however, historical precedent suggests the contrary. In the wake of the Columbine massacre in the late 1990s, public pressure — mobilized by then-President Bill Clinton — forced the GOP controlled House and Senate to allow votes on requiring background checks for all gun show sales and other gun provisions. Though Republicans were hostile to the bill, they ultimately relented and allowed votes on it. It passed the Senate but failed in the House, but that doesn’t mean it would fail this time. The point is that public anger in the wake of horrific massacres has been known to break the GOP’s determination to block votes on gun regulations — particularly one as rational as improving the background check system.
Clinton’s push for background checks still failed. This was back when Republicans were slightly less clinically insane than they are now (or at best, equally so.) What actually makes you think the outcome’s going to be any different? The NRA is going to back down in shame after going after Obama’s daughters and screaming that the next step will be confiscation of firearms and an open, bloody civil war? They’ll somehow throw their hands up after 4 years of HE’S COMING FOR YOUR GUNS and BUY MORE GUNS NOW BEFORE IT’S TOO LATE and say “Well gosh, you’re right, we went too far” and surrender? That the GOP after endlessly demagoguing the point and basically vowing to kill everything this President has announced so far since the election, will suddenly see reason?
Seems totally legit, bro. Look, it’s one thing for the Powers That Be over on Wall Street to tap the GOP on the shoulder and say “Knock it off on the debt ceiling, guys.” It’s another thing entirely for the NRA to tap the GOP on the shoulder and say “Argle Bargle Bloogity Confiscation!” and stuff.
So yeah, if the GOP was worried about backlash from the public with the way they’ve gerrymandered everything, I haven’t seen any evidence. We’re talking about a bunch of clods who didn’t ever feel the need to have a vote on the American Jobs Act. I’d love to be happily surprised on this. But betting against the GOP doing the inconceivably evil and stupid thing in 2013 is for suckers, full stop.