In the aftermath of the Gabrielle Giffords shooting, President Obama has gently inserted himself into the contentious gun-control debate. First he penned an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star, echoing the National Rifle Association's official line by stressing the need to enforce background check requirements more strictly. Then today, the president invited both pro- and anti-gun advocates to the first in a series of conferences seeking compromise. But the powerful NRA defiantly turned Obama down, suggesting that even his most modest efforts are doomed to fail. What's the forecast?
He won't succeed by taking baby steps: "This is a president who chooses his battles selectively, and it appears that gun control won't be one of them," says Michael Crowley at TIME. His op-ed "took about as mild a position as you'll ever see from a Democratic president," and all the minor remedies he proposes to strengthen existing laws just amount to "political tiptoeing."
"Obama weighs in on gun control, very quietly"
Obama could achieve modest goals: Counterintuitively, "the current political climate might favor gun control," say Andrew Romano and Pat Wingert at The Daily Beast. Many conservative, pro-gun Democrats were swept out of office last November proving that courting the NRA is not always a winning strategy. Public opinion, meanwhile, favors instant computerized background checks. Plus there is "new evidence that the GOP isn’t particularly invested in keeping high-capacity magazines on the market," with even Dick Cheney coming out in favor of restrictions.
"Gun control laws and how Obama has a chance to change them"
But the NRA won't cooperate: The gun lobby actually agrees with Obama on many of the fundamental issues, says Ben Armbruster at ThinkProgress. But in the interest of "money and self-preservation," it is publicly fighting him at every step. Since Obama became president, the group has helped spread "primarily baseless and unfounded fears" that Obama wants to take away every gun in America. With that strategy, membership has shot through the roof, so there's no reason to think they'll start cooperating anytime soon.
"NRA head Wayne LaPierre doesn't want you to know he agrees with Obama on guns"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- What is driving the increasingly weird behavior of the polar jet stream?
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Christians have no moral rationale for spanking their children
- How our botched understanding of 'science' ruins everything
- The science of sex: 4 harsh truths about dating and mating
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
- Should you hope to die at 75? Absolutely not.
- Why America should team up with Bashar al-Assad's regime
- Stop hating on cyclists
Subscribe to the Week