David Frum

12.17.12

President Obama, Stay Out of the Gun Debate, Ctd.

Jeb Golinkin wishes President Obama would stay clear of the process for practical reasons:

When a president publicly advocates on behalf of legislation, the fate of legislative proposals invariably become tied to the president and all of the feelings — good or bad — that mere mention of any president’s last name (be it Obama, Bush, or Clinton) invariably stirs up in the citizenry. By injecting himself into the debate, the president enabled gun rights advocates to run a campaign that taps into all of the passion and suspicion that Obama inspires on the right, including those who might have been inclined to view reasonable gun restrictions in a positive, or at the very least, inoffensive light.

It was always going to be hard to pass legislation regulating firearms. A new Huffington Post/YouGov survey found that support for gun regulation was (not surprisingly) up in the wake of the Newtown tragedy. By up, they mean that half the country supports more restrictive gun regulation. That number is, to put it very mildly, soft. If only half of the country supports more regulation two days after 20 children were ruthlessly murdered by a young man using legally purchased weapons, the regulation movement never had much hope to begin with. And the president’s involvement will only stir up the passionate opponents of regulation as well as the significant number of people who dislike the president no matter what he says or supports.