William Katz:  Urgent Agenda

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SHOW BUSINESS – AT 9:04 A.M. ET:  We should be having a serious national conversation about gun violence.  Instead, we're getting stage shows. 

In New York, presidential hopeful Governor Andy Cuomo slammed through the legislature some measures, most of them useless, and pronounced that New York now had the toughest gun-control laws in the country.  This will undoubtedly be inspiring to the cops who risk their lives every day in inner-city neighborhoods where gun-control laws are routinely ignored.

And President Obama will put on his show today.  Some are already revolted by the cosmetics.  From Fox:

President Obama will unveil a comprehensive effort to address gun violence as he calls on Congress to ban military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines as part of an aggressive agenda that is drawing resistance from some Republican lawmakers and gun rights advocates.

The president, facing criticism over his potential use of executive action to push multiple gun control measures, will be joined by children who wrote him letters about gun violence and school safety at a press conference shortly before noon on Wednesday.

"(Obama) believes and knows that most all gun owners are highly responsible, they buy their guns legally, and they use them safely," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday. "He also has seen and believes that most gun owners support the idea of commonsense measures to prevent people who shouldn't have guns from getting them."

Carney, without getting into specifics, vowed a "comprehensive approach." Two Democratic aides later confirmed that the legislative plank would include a push for universal background checks, a ban on high-capacity magazines and renewal of the assault weapons ban.

The announcement -- the product of a task force led by Vice President Biden -- is cloaked in controversy. That the announcement would include children as a backdrop added another level.

Roger Pilon, with the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, criticized the staging as "tacky," saying Obama has "carved up the population on a very emotional issue."

COMMENT:  Tacky is putting it mildly.  I don't have a high regard for politicians who use children as props.  As for the president's proposals, some might have value, others not.

The fact remains, though, that Joe Biden's "commission" on gun violence has been a sham.  It had virtually no time to study the matter, certainly not the complex issue of mental health.  The proposals are likely to be warmed-over talking points from the past.  Not the way to do thing.

And, by the way, notice what is left out of all these discussions – the fact that gun violence is not evenly distributed throughout the population.  There are terrible, awful spikes in some communities within inner cities.  Yet, the social pathologies of these communities are beyond discussion.  Issues like cultural breakdown, fatherlessness, corruption of local leaders, are all apparently off limits.  Yes, we can talk about the influence of "Hollywood," but notice that the influence of the music industry is off limits.

It's pathetic, just pathetic.  And more will die as a result.  But the politicians care only about looking good.

January 16,  2013