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Please begin with an informative title:

nutcracker choking on Newtown

Adam Zyglis via politicalcartoons.com

Gun control. That's what it was called before Newtown. Remember how no one was talking about gun control?

Except for the NRA. They never stopped talking about it. This is from June 2012:

President Barack Obama has shown little interest in peddling a gun control agenda during his first term, but the National Rifle Association is urging its members not to let its guard down ahead of the 2012 election.

In a new mailer, forwarded to us by a reader, the gun rights group lists "Ten Reasons Why Obama is Bad for the Second Amendment." We’ve been exploring several claims on the list this week -- you can see our findings here...

The NRA has taken a fragment of an unclear quote and prescribed the most far-reaching, conspiratorial conclusion. There simply isn't enough evidence for such a sweeping claim. We rate it Pants on Fire.

For an interesting reminder of how Newtown changed the President's priorities, check out this brief video from Bloomberg on Dec 19th, or this one, same date, with Chuck Todd, entitled Tipping Point:

David Maraniss has more:
If Dec. 14, 2012, was, as he said, his most difficult day in the White House, one unspoken aspect of his despair was a sense of deep remorse that, in the service of political survival, in the pursuit of power, in the obsession with avoiding traps, he had given little more than perfunctory attention to the issue of gun control. In word and deed since then, he has shown more passion and resolve. Perhaps the conscience of his late mother kicked in, her idealism finally overtaking his concern that people like her were too naive. Certainly the empathy of a father with young daughters had a transformative effect.
So does Jodi Kantor:
When the president returned from consoling families of teachers and children killed in the Newtown, Conn., massacre — he wept as they handed him photos and told him stories of victim after victim — aides could see in his face the toll of absorbing the nation’s traumas. “This is what I do,” Mr. Obama told them.
But it wasn't just the President. All over the country, from local forums to national platforms, everyone has been talking and debating about gun violence and what to do about it. From the Danbury News-Times:
Top police commanders from several of the state's cities and towns have thrown their weight behind Newtown police Chief Michael Kehoe, who inserted himself firmly into the gun-control debate last week by calling for a ban on assault weapons.
Because it isn't just the NRA now, the discussion has been much more thoughtful and balanced than this guy:
DAVID GREGORY: You don't think guns should be part of the conversation?

WAYNE LAPIERRE: I think that is the one thing that we can do immediately that will immediately make our children safe.

DAVID GREGORY: Is it the only thing?

WAYNE LAPIERRE: Gun control, you could ban all Dianne Feinstein's, you could do whatever she wants to do with magazines, it's not going to make any kid safer. We've got to get to the real problems, the real causes. And that's what the N.R.A. is trying to do.

And I think, I'll tell you this, I have people all over the country calling me saying, "Wayne, I went to bed safer last night because I have a firearm. Don't let the media try to make this a gun issue."

The media didn't make it a gun issue. Shooting 20 first graders multiple times each—along with the brave adults who were shot trying to protect them from being massacred—made this a gun issue. Only a gun issue? No, not by any means. But a gun issue nonetheless? Despite LaPierre's tone-deaf response, yes.

And has it mattered? Here's the headline from the Jan 18th NY Times, referring to their own poll:

Massacre Sways Public in Way Others Did Not
The massacre of children at an elementary school in Newtown, Conn., appears to be profoundly swaying Americans’ views on guns, galvanizing the broadest support for stricter gun laws in about a decade, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.
Here's an even broader view, looking specifically at the question (not all polls ask it) of making gun laws more strict:

chart of 5 polls post newtown on stricter gun laws (
Collation from pollingreport.com

Join us below the fold as we talk more about how Newtown changed the landscape.

You must enter an Intro for your Diary Entry between 300 and 1150 characters long (that's approximately 50-175 words without any html or formatting markup).

Gallup captures changing public opinion:

gallup polling on public opinion of gun laws over the years
Modified from gallup.com
Poll after public opinion poll shows the same thing. This one is from AP (here is the .pdf):
Some 58 percent favor strengthening gun laws in the United States. Just 5 percent felt such laws should be loosened, while 35 percent said they should be left unchanged.

In comparison, after the Virginia Tech shootings in 2007, an Associated Press-Ipsos poll found that 47 percent wanted stricter gun laws, 38 percent thought they should remain as is and 11 percent wanted to see them loosened.

And this one is from Reuters (here are the topline results):
About three-quarters of Americans surveyed support proposals to ban the sale of automatic weapons, ban high-capacity ammunition clips and expand background checks on all gun buyers, according to an online Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Thursday.

Those proposals were at the heart of President Barack Obama's package of recommendations to Congress on Wednesday designed to curb gun violence after last month's elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, that killed 20 children and six adults.

Speaking of the President's proposals, this Gallup poll actually looked at them.
Americans' immediate reaction to President Barack Obama's proposals for new laws designed to reduce gun violence is more positive than negative, with 53% saying they would want their representative in Congress to vote for the set of proposed new laws, while 41% say their representative should vote against them.
The only sub-groups that oppose it are conservatives and Republicans. Duh. Hugely popular in the East (68-30), marginally popular out West (47-45). Midwest (50-42) and South (49-44) okay with it.

Meanwhile and more broadly, the Republican response so far isn't encouraging. "Lie about what you really think" isn't a way to govern, it's a way to win elections. That's a distinction lost on many in the House, since they are not especially interested in governance. Then again, that's why their numbers are so bad. In this poll, the negative Republican number is at an all-time high. No, it's not the messaging. Yes, it's the policy content.

NBC WSJ poll on favorability of Democrts republicans and tea party
Republican party unfavorability at all-time high in NBC/WSJ poll
Until we see where they stand and where they actually vote on measures the President has suggested, I'm skeptical that they have the courage and the guts to stand up to the NRA leadership and support what the public and NRA membership wants.

But, and these are vital points to consider:

• The public supports specific parts of Obama's proposals and, in general, supports the concept of stricter gun laws.

• In 2011, NRA members supported specific proposals like background checks, and in July 2012, the same was true. Wayne LaPierre does not speak for all of them (even though 70% of NRA members are conservatives). Link

• After Newtown, 85% of NRA households support background checks. Link. (For the distinction between NRA households and members, see previous link - it's men vs women.)

• The Republican party itself is extremely unpopular, limiting the leverage of opposing everything for the sake of opposition.

• Obama is seen as a strong leader (61%, WaPo poll).

• The intensity, for a change, is not entirely on the side of the NRA (link):

support and strong support for gun proposals

From Washington Post polling

With those kinds of numbers, and a determined White House, don't assume anything about what happens next, even if the conventional wisdom is that nothing will pass Congress. It might be that, as speculated by many, the assault weapons ban gets traded for everything else (not a terrible outcome). Or it might be some other outcome entirely.

But understand that simply writing about the NRA's past successes is a lazy way to approach the issue. Things are simply not the same as the way they were before.

Ask anyone in Newtown.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jan 20, 2013 at 06:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Repeal or Amend the Second Amendment (RASA) and Shut Down the NRA.

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