There are some serious, perhaps insurmountable obstacles to any new gun-safety measures being passed through Congress. Specifically, the House of Representatives is controlled by Republicans, and nearly all of them have been endorsed by the National Rifle Association. Those endorsements didn't come for nothing; they're an acknowledgement of past service and a warning against future heresy. And as the GOP has grown more Southern and rural in recent years, the NRA's grip has only tightened.
Nevertheless, for the first time in over a decade, measures to restrict gun ownership are being seriously discussed. Today, White House spokesman Jay Carney said that President Obama is looking favorably on a bill Senator Dianne Feinstein will soon introduce. It will create a new version of the assault-weapons ban that was in place between 1994 and 2004, not only forbidding the manufacture and sale of certain types of military-style weapons, but also outlawing ammunition magazines that hold more than ten rounds. With a growing list of pro-gun senators—including Joe Manchin, Mark Warner, and Harry Reid—now saying the time has come to rethink our gun laws, Feinstein's bill might stand a chance, at least in the Senate.
As for the aforementioned NRA, they're finally breaking their silence. The group had been lying low since the massacre in Newtown, refusing to give reporters any comments and even taking down their Facebook page. But today they issued a brief press release, saying they were "saddened and heartbroken" by the tragedy and are "prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." And just what kind of contribution will the NRA make, given its record of opposition to any and every measure that might restrain people from amassing as many guns and as much ammunition as their hearts could possibly desire? We'll have to wait until the group holds its press conference on Friday to find out.
So They Say
“Wouldn’t that be exciting? I hope she goes. Why wouldn’t she? She would be president of the United States, and she would be great. And if she decided to run, and I think she would win, she would go into the White House as well prepared or better prepared than almost anybody who has served in that office in a very long time. I won’t include Washington, Jefferson, Adams—but maybe.”
—House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announces she's on Team Hillary
Daily Meme: Aloha Daniel Inouye
- Senator Dan Inouye of Hawaii, the second-longest-serving Senator in history, died yesterday at age 88.
- His fellow senators have showered him with praise since. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Error! Hyperlink reference not valid., "I have never known anyone like Dan Inouye. No one else has. A man who has lived and breathed the Senate. If there were ever a patriot, Dan Inouye was that patriot.”
- Patrick Leahy, sworn in today as president pro tempore, said, “When I look at my dear friend’s desk here, with the traditional white flowers, I can’t tell you how much it pains me. ... He was one of the greatest members of this body ever to have served and a dear friend to so many of us."
- Inouye had been around Washington a long time. He's been in the Senate since 1963, and became a representative for Hawaii the very same day it became a state in 1959.
- He was probably one of the most badass senators of all time. Just read this Hawaii Reporter piece on his bravery during WWII. He was also a looming voice in the Watergate and Iran-Contra hearings.
- The senator cared deeply about his home state, making sure desperately needed federal dollars made their way to Hawaii's economy. The last word he ever spoke was "Aloha."
What We're Writing
- Robert Kuttner writes that it looks like Obama is on the verge of folding a winning hand, once again.
- Amy Schiller puts forward the argument that John Kerry is a far more progressive pick for secretary of State than Susan Rice.
What We're Reading
- Out names Nate Silver their person of the year.
- Jon Chait spells out what should worry liberals—and what shouldn't—about Obama's latest fiscal-cliff offer.
- John Judis says don't let Chuck Hagel's conservative critics sink his Defense secretary nomination.
- Todd Akin, he of legitimate rape, is trying to undercut the repeal of "don't ask, don't tell" before he leaves Congress.
- The birthers popped back up at the Electoral College yesterday.
- Zeke Emmanuel (Rahm's brother) has a plan to fix health spending.
- Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is widely disliked in his home state after ramming through right to work.
- Reuters is starting a series on inequality in America, focusing first on D.C.
- Mother Jones keeps tabs on which senators support an assault-weapons ban.
Poll of the Day
Obama might be ready to cave on fiscal-cliff negotiations, but the American people don't agree with his new plan to cut Social Security benefits. According to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, a majority of the country wants the two sides to compromise on the fiscal cliff, yet cuts to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and the military are unpopular. About the only solution the public supports is raising taxes on those earning over $250,000 per year.