In which Nancy Pelosi undermines the best shot at a reasonable, bipartisan bill that would implement the first new gun regulation in quite some time, including the failed Toomey-Manchin effort. With numerous Republicans talking up their openness to banning 'bump stock' mechanisms, including an initial green light from the Trump White House, the gun control lobby seems poised to tally a win. Even the NRA is tentatively onboard, although it's unclear whether they'd favor an act of Congress, or merely executive regulations in furtherance of this policy. The most prevalent arguments against a bump stock ban that I've encountered from big gun rights people on social media go something like this (via Stephen Gutowski):
Not a fan. Elected officials and celebs are publicly calling us complicit murderers. We're rewarding bad behavior. https://t.co/bNw3gZrnCf— Will (@Oil_Guns_Merica) October 5, 2017
I'm a gun advocate, my only concern is: give an inch, they take a mile scenario.— ImJeff (@fyvie2) October 5, 2017
Concern one: Rewarding ugly demagoguery with positive policy reinforcement. Concern two: Surrendering on anything emboldens gun controllers to grab for more. These are both understandable objections, but they strike me as insufficient reasons to oppose anti-bump stock legislation. First, if it's a good idea to do something, it should be done -- even if some "bad" people who've said terrible things feel somewhat vindicated. Compromises always require actions that will please some of the worst actors on "the other side." Second, the GOP has been steadfast in its opposition to new gun restrictions, even in the face of terrible atrocities that Democrats have sought to exploit for policy ends. They also control the Congress. As I argued earlier in the week, any bill that is written should be crafted narrowly and carefully, to foreclose abuse or over-application. With all that said, in waltzes Nancy Pelosi to confirm every simmering fear of Second Amendment advocates who may be suspicious of this growing consensus:
Philip Klein wryly observes: "So clearly Pelosi wants [the] bump stock ban bill to fail." In reality, she's just previewing how much of the Left will respond if this restriction gets implemented. They'll welcome incremental progress while complaining bitterly that the measure is nowhere near strong or far-reaching enough, vowing that the battle is just beginning, etc. Allahpundit thinks Pelosi is deliberately trying to blow up an emerging deal by "spooking" Republicans and keeping Democratic attack points intact. I'm not quite as far down the cynical path as he is, but here's his case:
Republican leaders spending political capital on a potential gun-control measure, a once-in-a-generation thing in modern politics. So why’s Pelosi trying to spook them? You can guess. She knows most of the public will support a bump-stock ban, just as most of the public supports expanding background checks for gun purchases, and she’s eager to keep Republicans on the wrong side of those numbers. Although Americans are more pro-gun than they used to be, Democrats get mileage (especially among their base) from the perception that the congressional GOP is in the NRA’s pocket and will fanatically oppose any gun restriction, no matter how high the death toll climbs. Restricting bump stocks is an easy way for Republicans to knock some wind out of that accusation. Unlike most gun-control measures favored by the left, a bump-stock ban actually might have made a difference in Vegas.
For more on that last, important "actually might have made a difference" point, I'll once again showcase this column from a liberal data journalist who abandoned her gun control views as they "crumbled" under scrutiny. One of her most damning indictments is that the "solutions" she sees from anti-gun advocates appear to have been designed by firearm-illiterate lawmakers, whose ignorance is widely-shared -- if not celebrated -- by much of the media. Two fresh cases of literal fake news:
Automatic rounds?— Buck Sexton (@BuckSexton) October 4, 2017
Do the journos at CBS have access to Wikipedia or Google, or nah? https://t.co/LeALyhRT6b
CNN displayed this image to show what a bump stock rifle looks like.— David Hookstead (@dhookstead) October 5, 2017
The rifle features a suppressor, grenade launcher and no bump stock. pic.twitter.com/D6gNoQ8O6s
Finally, one complaint I've heard from some pro-restriction liberals is that conservatives stoke unfounded fears about blanket "gun grabbing" bans and confiscation as scare tactics to oppose any and all modest regulations. This is sometimes a fair gripe, but the problem is that while some lefties angrily object to right-wing 'lies' about Democrats wanting to ban guns, other lefties are angrily demanding that guns be banned. And we're not just talking about random Facebook rants either; we're talking about prominent voices, major publications, and New York Times columnists. Also, when people like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton entertain or tout the "Australian model," Second Amendment defenders have every reason to talk about confiscatory bans. Because the Australian model was...a confiscatory ban. Setting aside the minor issue of constitutionality, did it "work"? Not really. The hype is undercut by inconvenient facts like these:
Problem with chart: a) U.S. saw same gun murder decline w/ opposite policy; b) Aus. murder rate stayed same overall. https://t.co/x1st939iHp— Charles C. W. Cooke (@charlescwcooke) October 2, 2017
But hey, the Aussies did something, so that probably felt good.