Barack Obama should offer up the federal assault weapons ban in favor of closing the gun show loophole and better regulation of the interstate gun trade.
Assumption #1: No law is perfect
No law will stop all murder or violence, gun, hammer, or otherwise. Nothing can stop the next mass shooting, because it will happen. But something has stopped a lot of other mass shootings: law and society.
For every Adam Lanza out there, there have been countless others who have contemplated, drew up plans, started gathering supplies and knowledge, scouted out positions, recruited followers and otherwise started down the path to a mass shooting who have stopped themselves or been stopped by the outside forces of law and society before those plans were taken into action. The best a law can be hoped to do is lessen the occurrence of the undesired act.
Assumption #2: The 2nd Amendment is not the issue.
The measures being contemplated by the Administration are not unconstitutional. Most of them have been or are currently law in one form or another and, until the Supreme Court says otherwise, should be considered fair game.
Assumption #3: Assault weapons are not the issue.
While assault weapons have been use in some mass shootings, they are not the only weapons used in mass shootings, let alone the majority of gun violence.
Assumption #4: Gun owners are good people.
Most of the people who are opposed to the assault weapons ban are not deranged people intent on overthrowing the liberal fascist communist nazi multicultural new world order black helicopter global government. Most of the people opposed to changes in gun laws are perfectly respectable, law abiding citizens who happen to like guns and have nothing to do with gun trafficking or shooting people. They are not the problem.
Assumption #5: The practical problem is lax oversight on gun sales and gun trafficking.
The real problem is that it is easy to get guns and sell them across state lines. At least that's what the police in my hometown say.
Assumption #6: The political problem is people like oversight, they don't like bans.
The resistance to an assault weapons ban is regional, while better monitoring of gun sales and trafficking is more broadly supported.
Forget your own personal ideas about the gun debate. We are here to get Democrats elected.
I think the heart of the problem right now, the true evil in the gun lobby paranoia, is interstate gun commerce. Guns flow from the states with the weakest gun laws to states with the strongest gun laws. And the NRA has interfered in the federal government's ability to do anything about it. Lowest common denominator is not how state's rights is supposed to work.
There should be federal oversight on gun sales and trafficking. Types of weapons available should be at the prerogative of the states. As long as the federal government is tracking sales of weapons and can keep weapons that are banned in my state out of my state (with reference to Assumption #1), I don't see the need to have a federal assault weapons ban.
By focusing in on background checks, sales, and trafficking and abandoning an attempt to "ban guns" Obama would go a long way toward diffusing the issue.
Saying you only want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill, then saying you want to ban a type of gun I or someone I know owns means to me you think I'm a crazy person or potential criminal because I want to own that type of gun.
But if you say you just want to monitor gun sales to make sure they don't fall into the hands of the wrong people, I will be much more likely to not just accept but support what you are doing.
If we want to fight this divisive issue, let's do it right. I do not want to thwart the will of gun owners in other states, I just want the gun laws of my state upheld.
If we really want to make gains in 2014, an off year election where we have to play offense on the Republican's turf, we should be making every effort not to antagonize gun owners. Most of them see the debate, they see the news, they know something is going to happen. Let's take the amorphous "assault weapons" ban off the table and focus on things that will actually put a dent in gun violence.