William Katz:  Urgent Agenda






EXPANDED GUN CONTROL – AT 11:19 A.M. ET:  A number of stories are around stating that the administration will be trying for a more extensive gun-control agenda than previously thought.  I have to caution, though, that some of the interpretations of these stories are a bit overdone.  Most of the steps mentioned seem within reason, and refinements of current policies.

As I've said here, as a law-abiding gun owner I have no problem with thoughtful, effective, Constitutional measures to fight gun violence.  My problem in the past has been that most measures suggested constitute grandstanding rather than effective action. 

From the Washington Post:

The White House is weighing a far broader and more comprehensive approach to curbing the nation’s gun violence than simply reinstating an expired ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition, according to multiple people involved in the administration’s discussions.

A working group led by Vice President Biden is seriously considering measures backed by key law enforcement leaders that would require universal background checks for firearm buyers, track the movement and sale of weapons through a national database, strengthen mental health checks, and stiffen penalties for carrying guns near schools or giving them to minors, the sources said.

Most of these have actually been discussed extensively.  The only one that would raise eyebrows of people who follow this discussion involves tracking the movement and sale of weapons.  Precisely who will have this information, and how will it be used? 

To sell such changes, the White House is developing strategies to work around the National Rifle Association that one source said could include rallying support from Wal-Mart and other gun retailers for measures that would benefit their businesses. White House aides have also been in regular contact with advisers to New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg (I), an outspoken gun-control advocate who could emerge as a powerful surrogate for the Obama administration’s agenda.

The Biden group, formed last month after the massacre at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school that killed 20 children and six adults, plans to submit a package of recommendations to President Obama this month. Once Obama’s proposals are set, he plans to lead a public-relations offensive to generate popular support.

COMMENT:  Strengthening mental-health checks may be the most effective thing proposed, if it actually could be put into practice.  Some mental-health professionals are against anything that "stigmatizes" the mentally ill. 

We'll watch this closely.  The fear, of course, is that reasonable proposals could escalate into the unreasonable, where only the law-abiding gun owner is hurt, and the criminals get away with no restraints at all. 

Meanwhile, you may be sure that some of the root causes of gun violence – cultural breakdowns in some communities, fatherlessness, poor police work, and reckless "civil liberties" groups who care only about the civil liberties of criminals – will go unexplored, undiscussed and unnoticed by the Obama crowd.  After all, the president doesn't want to confront the fact that his city, Chicago, has become a shooting gallery, whereas New York was largely cleaned up under a Republican mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

January 6, 2013