Ringside Seat: Don't Give Up on Gun Control Yet

In the wake of the horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in December, it seemed that the time had finally come for some real restrictions on the kinds of firearms people can buy. After years of not even bothering to propose new laws, Democrats found their courage and put forward a number of proposals, none of which got more attention than a new ban on assault weapons. But now it looks like the assault-weapons ban is dead, or at least shunted indefinitely to the side. The ban's sponsor, Senator Dianne Feinstein, told reporters today that Majority Leader Harry Reid told her that while the assault-weapons ban may be offered as an amendment to a larger bill, it won't be a stand-alone measure, and it's unlikely to pass.

So it looks like your God-given right to go down to the range and pretend you're G.I. Joe is intact for the foreseeable future. And that may not be such a disaster. The truth is that spectacular massacres like Sandy Hook and Aurora notwithstanding, almost nine in ten gun murders are committed with handguns. Of the measures being debated, the most significant is probably not the assault-weapons ban but making background checks universal (and cracking down on straw buyers), which has the potential to make it significantly more difficult for criminals to get guns. Despite the NRA's opposition, universal background checks are supported by around 90 percent of Americans, a level of consensus you couldn't get if you polled people to ask whether ice cream is tasty.

If the assault-weapons ban dies and universal background checks become law, it will still be a momentous development. Not that we won't still have more gun crime than any other industrialized country, because we will. But it would be a start.

So They Say

"7:15 p.m. Forward cute pictures my wife sent me of my dog Charlie to anyone who cares. If they don’t I tweet them out, hoping someone else will.

"8 p.m. Finally dinner. Go down to the Longworth House Office building’s vending machines. I usually go for the burger.

"8:10 p.m. Eat vending machine burger at my desk. Start making calls back to constituents.

"8:15 – 9:30 p.m. It’s dinnertime in Arizona. Continue to call constituents back and touch base with those contacting our office who want to speak to me.

"9:30 p.m. Feel guilty about only eating vending machine food. Go to the gym.

10:15 p.m. Back from gym, read and prepare for the next day.

"11:30 p.m. Bed time. Think about the $6 billion Washington has spent in just 24 hours[’] time."

 — A depressing day in the life of Representative Dave Schweikert of Arizona 

Daily Meme: Bank Another Day

  • So, Cyprus! The small island country's banking system—which happens to be a popular place for Russian mobsters to hold at least $19.9 billion worth of their dough—needs a bailout to the tune of ten billion euros. 
  • The Eurozone's proposition? Make the country's bank depositors pay a one-time tax to the benevolent bail-outing continent. As Kevin Roose describes it, "Say you're a Cypriot fisherman with $10,000 in life savings in the bank. When the banks open up this week, the government will immediately take $675 of that away." Yikes!
  • Unsurprisingly, Cyprus lawmakers were like, um, no
  • And Cypriots were like, phew!
  • So what happens next? Will we get a bailout deal that raises the $5.8 billion by only levying a tax against big depositors (leaving the fisherman and other small depositors alone)?
  • Will Cyprus decide to leave the Euro and default? Everyone's biting their nails in worry that this might pan out, and would lead to a big European bank run
  • Andrew Ross Sorkin thinks the bank-run panic is overblown. Cyprus is so tiny, it's more of an interesting theoretical case study than an augur of impending global doom.
  • Felix Salmon says, wait! What about the Cypriots? There's an alternative: Take only deposits above €100,000, and transition them into CDs. 
  • In the end, no one knows what's next for Cyprus, or which country could be next.

What We're Writing

  • Step aside, Texas: Vermonters' secessionist movement is better developed and has a bigger tent than anything down south. Plus, lefties! Christopher Ketcham gives us an inside look at the Green Mountaineers hunting for a national divorce.
  • Paul Waldman remembers that ten years ago when we began the Iraq War, it wasn't just the White House that let us down on WMDs. It was the newspapermen who declined to ask questions, the too-credulous newscasters, and the reporters that never reported.

What We're Reading

  • Tea Party darling and anti-drone wunderkind Senator Rand Paul maybe kind of came out for a path to citizenship today. 
  • Iraqis rang in the tenth anniversary of the U.S. invasion with a dose of the same violence they've had for the last ten years. By midafternoon, the tally had hit more than 53 dead and 180 wounded.
  • Oil is up near $100 a barrel, and it looks like it's there to stay. Commensurately, big oil is one of the United States' most profitable industries. So how about we stop giving them our tax money already?
  • Bill Kristol, responsible commentator, told The Daily Standard, an institution with impeccable journalistic standards, that America spent the 1990s declining to police the world. Astoundingly, that's total bull.
  • The government is once again pushing to reduce restrictions on its electronic surveillance of you and let it bypass warrants and subpoenas.
  • Slate takes a look at how George Will's stance on gay-marriage is a tad too retro.
  • Matthew Yglesias writes that despite the doom and gloom that pervades perceptions of the modern news media, the average consumer has more information than ever. If only we weren't so poor over here, though.
  • Ezra Klein will tell you that, hands down, you'd be better off fighting one Paul Ryan-sized duck than 100 duck-sized Paul Ryans.

Poll of the Day

Pew's latest poll ranges from the predictable to the terrifying. Americans support Israelis over Palestinians by a huge margin, 49 percent to 12 percent. A plurality of Americans (41 percent) also think that Obama is striking the right balance between the two groups. What's much scarier is that 64 percent of Americans—including majorities of Republicans, Democrats, and independents—"favors stopping Iran's nuclear program, even if it means military action." Well, glad we've learned something from this anniversary.

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