Immediately after the Aurora, Colorado shootings there was a pre-emptive outcry from the pro-gun crowd which rushed to put the shooting in perspective. The League hosted some of these posts and I was just as guilty as others in rushing to defend guns in anticipation of calls for more legislation from the Left. We reasoned that the shooting was less about guns and more about an individual who was obviously mentally troubled. Several days later the fallout we assumed would happen hasn’t really materialized. My curiosity now asks the question…why?
I feared that in an election year this issue would be red meat to both sides of the aisle. It still may turn out that way but the President has proven to take little interest in gun issues since coming into office. It’s not that I believe him to be a moderate on the subject of guns, but the common opinion among more moderate voices is that he has bigger fish to fry. Romney has done much to establish his credibility with the gun crowd. In 2008 I attended his first real speech on the issue at the NRA’s national convention. His speech was boring and lacked conviction but he said the right things. He may be hoping this turns into a campaign issue but I don’t think he wants to push it.
This leaves the talking heads, journalists and bloggers, yet I don’t really see anything there either. There have certainly been a few mentions but those lacked any real conviction. It has been as though some voices on the Left went through the motions out of a sense of obligation and quickly lost interest. So again I ask, why? A few possible reasons come to mind and I will rely on my friends in the League commentariat to weigh in on how likely they are.
My first thought is that liberals generally follow the President’s logic and have decided that other issues are more important. They care about what happened in Colorado and what has happened elsewhere but they care more about healthcare, gay marriage and the economy. This isn’t meant to sound like a slight against them. We all have our priorities and they are generally subjective.
My next hypothetical is that the Left wants to pursue the issue with vigor but they are completely intimidated by the NRA crowd. They don’t want to be called anti-American or any other nasty adjectives.
Next up, is there just a general malaise that the battle has been lost and there’s no point in trying? There seems to be a new shooting every other month (albeit not always so gruesome in scale). Maybe folks have given up?
Lastly and most unlikely, perhaps the pro-gun message has gotten through and liberals realize that guns aren’t to blame in these shootings. If they want to push for new gun laws they can’t piggyback on mass shootings.
All of these possible scenarios may also reflect lessons learned after the Gifford shooting when there was a more noticeable reaction on the Left and a severe backlash from the Right. So, what are your thoughts? An appropriate ancillary conversation would certainly cover why the Right is so jumpy when these things happen? Is our fear misplaced, exaggerated or understandable?