Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Democrats sit in for gun control was largely a waste of time.

House Democrats speak about gun control. ABC/AP.

I'm going to skip the normal format for this one. As you probably know the House Democrats staged a "sit in" on the floor of congress. Why? The did it in favor of two gun control laws. The first would have banned anyone on the no-fly list from purchasing a gun, without any due process protections. The second would ban the so called "gun show loophole" that allows people to sell their weapons in state without a background check. 

All in all, the sit in didn't accomplish much. Republicans wouldn't allow a vote on the bills, largely because there was no point. No GOP congressperson that didn't want to be kicked out of office would support these bills. Plus there is the fact that similar bills were proposed in the senate and were shot down already. And of course the Democrats wouldn't vote in favor of the GOP's bills, that would have expanded funding for background checks and would also ban people on terrorism watchlists from buying guns but critically would allow for due process, requiring probable cause for denying gun rights. Since this was a compromise with the GOP, the Democrats rejected those bills completely even though they could have pointed to it as a bipartisan accomplishment that may have had some small effect on the problem. 

But that didn't happen. Which goes to show that the Democrats have no interest in compromise or due process. My conspiracy theory is that they wanted their bills to pass because they would be able to abuse the no-fly list to harass their opponents. Due process would prevent that. 

So did this help or hurt Democrats? I think it is a mixed bag. Most of these congresspeople are in districts that are safe from Republicans so they are unlikely to pay any political price for this. Indeed, the hardcore liberals that make up those districts may even appreciate this assault on their rights. But I do think that over all this hurt the Democrats quite badly. Here's why:

1. Support for gun control usually spikes after an attack like this, but in the long term the support tends to go down. The recent small boost in support for gun control will likely dissipate quickly. And I am guessing some of the people that say they want gun control would rather have the GOP bill that would support due process and not effect the gun rights of people that aren't suspected of being terrorists.

2. The whole thing looked childish. A bunch of people sitting on the floor with pillows looks like a bunch of teenagers having a sleepover. It wasn't dignified at all and made the Democrats look like children. 

3. None of the laws proposed by either the Democrats or the Republicans would have stopped the attack in Orlando. Omar Mateen was no longer under investigation by the FBI. He probably should have been but they just thought that he was angry at being an American and ended the investigation. With the FBI clearing him he passed a background check easily. And he even had to pass a more extensive background check to become an armed security guard, multiple times. With no active investigation Mateen would have passed any background check. Indeed, he would have a better chance of passing then most because nobody would want to be seen as Islamophobic by denying him his right to a firearm.

4. Almost everyone has at least heard the idea that this was an ISIS attack that has little to do with traditional gun violence. Though the president and the media is trying very hard to push the theory that this was a hate crime done because Mateen was gay, almost everyone has heard about his pledging allegiance to the Islamic State. The media may have argued that Mateen was just a run of the mill spree killer, everyone except the most dedicated of Liberal people trapped in a bubble know that this is an Islamic terrorist attack. To try and push through gun control instead of addressing ISIS attacks shows a dangerous lack of understanding of the threat. But as I said above, I doubt this has anything to do with trying to fix violence and everything with trying to destroy the 2nd Amendment.

5. I think people will understand that the timing for this little stunt is more then a little suspicious. The very same day Donald Trump gave a major speech criticizing Hillary Clinton. That attack was damning and if the story was able to dominate the news, it could have hurt the Democrats chances this November. This was quite clearly a stunt to distract the media from covering the speech. 

6. That being said, the timing is terrible. The news cycle has already moved on from the sit in. Right now the Brexit is dominating the news and social media. Though that election hasn't been called, the world is waiting with baited breath for the results and the discussion has completely drowned out this story. Also, there were several major Supreme Court rulings on immigration and affirmative action. I am guessing in a week or two, very few people will even remember this happening. 

I don't think the Democrats accomplished anything with this sit in stunt and I doubt if they will ever get what they want on gun control. People just don't like it and supporters of gun rights are extremely dedicated and always show up at the polls if they think their rights are at risk. Making gun rights an election issue, when you already have a weak candidate, was a huge strategic error for the Democrats. If there is any justice at all it will cost them the White House this November... 

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