How's that for a sacred cow cage match, hey? But why am I even putting them in the same sentence, let alone presenting them as in direct conflict with one another?
Well, in a word, it's about priorities, as in what is more important: affecting an assault weapons ban or protecting Social Security and other safety net programs? We on the left need to decide where we want to spend political capital, on what and when. Why on Earth would I say such a thing?
Because of current realities meeting historical trends; the picture painted ain't a pretty one.
The current reality side of things:
- the House is controlled by the GOP
- all funding/spending bills must originate from the house -- no House passage, no monies
- a lot of the problems we have with guns stem from underfunding the appropriate regulatory bodies
- most U.S. gun deaths are due to handguns
- most U.S. gun deaths are suicides
- DiFi's new AWB would require funding
- DiFi's new AWB addresses guns which account for only 2% of U.S. gun violence, tops
- DiFi's new AWB grandfathers some 900+ models of gun and would not apply to guns purchased before the ban, such as those currently flying off store shelves across the country
To my untrained eye, this all reads as DiFi's AWB being DOA, a complete non-starter, and frankly, a waste of time. And that is the thing about the coming (gun) violence debate: there are uphill battles, and then there's Pickett's Charge.
An uphill battle would be wrangling the necessary funding out of the House for enforcing existing gun laws, or trying to address (gun) violence through social programs, like increased education funding and expanded mental health services. Pushing and fighting for an AWB would be Pickett's Charge: we'd lose a lot of soldiers and for nothing in the end.
By "losing soldiers," I mean Congressional seats. Fulfilling every paranoid stereotype about gun-grabbing Dems is not going to do us any electoral favors. Yes; I read the diary telling us we needn't fear gun control laws because of the last election, yadda yadda. Hogwash.
Romney/Team Red won 47% of the vote, which carried 22 states for Romney, Rove, et al. Twenty-two states went for the Republican in the 2012 election. That's 44 Senators and Dog knows how many House seats, especially with behemoths like Texas in that mix.
Speaking of Texas, you know how stoked we all are that its demographic trends show it moving to swing state/blue over time? And you know how we're growing and strengthening our numbers in the Mountain West? Nothing will stop that in its tracks faster than Dems pursuing -- or Dog forbid -- passing an AWB. The states Romney won are all southern/midwestern.
Of critical importance here are two obscure details: of the 234 House seats held by the GOP, Obama only won 15 of them. It's also true that thanks to Gerrymandering, it's going to be one long road to hoe for Dems to take back the House.
Then there are states like mine, Oregon, which never fails to deliver for Dems in Presidential elections. But if you look more closely, you realize that it's almost entirely Multnomah County (Portland), Lane County (Eugene), and Benton County (Corvallis). That is to say Portland freaks and college kids keep the state blue like that. But the rest of the state, with a few exceptions, is red, red, red.
I'm sure mine is not the only blue state with such a dynamic and here's the kicker: it isn't even only the red patches we need to worry about. Believe it or not, a lot of left-leaning types in those southern/western/rural areas support gun rights. Splitting the left on this is the last thing we need.
The historical trends side of things:
- the party in power just about always loses Congressional seats in the midterms
- this is especially true for second-term Presidents
- when Dems passed the AWB during Clinton's presidency, it gave the GOP control of the House for the first time in 40 years
Yes, you read that right. After passing DiFi's AWB the first time, Dems lost 54 seats.
Oh, but times have changed; that would never happen now! Orly? Even bringing the ban up for consideration in committee would get the full force of the NRA types engaged. Their membership has done nothing but increase recently, by the way. Then add to the mix Rove, who, armed with Citizens United, will jump on any possible vehicle for targeting dems. Add to that mix the historical trends, and one thing becomes absolutely clear:
PURSUING AN AWB WOULD MEAN ELECTORAL SUICIDE FOR DEMS
By extension, then, it would put the kibosh on lots of liberal policy goals, like protecting Social Security. So, if we leave Social Security alone, as many here and elsewhere advocate, we are implicitly banking on the notion that we will have the time -- and the power -- to fix it in a manner of our choosing at a later date, when the emergent populism has taken stronger hold.
Well, you can kiss all of that good-bye if we push for and pass an AWB. The chances of us taking back the House in 2014 are already quite slim. Our margin in the Senate is only 10, and a lot of that margin was due to the good fortune of Senators like McCaskill having batshit-crazy opponents like Akin. Missouri is a very purple state with strong conservative undercurrents, and it's not the only one we need to solidify our majorities.
So, it does rather seem that the options before us break down as follows: if Dems pursue an AWB, they need to also reform SS in the best way possible before pushing the ban -- or -- forget both altogether. More simply put: if the goal is to have Congress leave entitlements alone, then we need to leave the AWB alone. Straight-up. Because you can bet your bippies the GOP will truly destroy the program(s) the first chance they get, and the AWB has a very high probability of delivering them that chance.