Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada speaks to reporters following the Democratic policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)
In the wake of the horrific mass shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, support for re-banning assault weapons grew exponentially inside and outside of the Beltway. It's only natural when an AR-15 is used to slaughter twenty schoolchildren and six educators, only months after another was used to shoot seventy-one people inside a movie theater.
Yesterday, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel—seen as recently as 2006 recruiting pro-gun Democrats to run in House races—said that Newtown was a “tipping point, a galvanization for action.” He’s now calling for an assault weapons ban, expanded background checks, and is ordering Chicago municipal pension funds to divest from all gun manufacturers.
Indeed, it was a tipping point. Five days after the shootings, President Obama stood in the White House briefing room and explicitly called for another assault weapons ban, and Vice President Joe Biden is expected to recommend one this week. Senator Dianne Feinstein announced she’d introduce a strong bill in the Senate, and all the pieces looked to be in place.
But in the past twenty-four hours, there have been disturbing signs of pre-emptive surrender by key Democrats on the assault weapons ban.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid told a PBS affiliate in Las Vegas that he didn’t think the assault weapons ban could pass the House, and thus he wanted would “focus” on what could. His comments echoed many pro-gun talking points about Hollywood and violent video games, and Reid openly tried to throw cold water on the gun-control movement:
“We have too much violence in our society, and it’s not just from guns. It’s from a lot of stuff. And I think we should take a look at TV, movies, video games and weapons. And I hope that everyone will just be careful and cautious. […]
“Let’s just look at everything. I don’t think we need to point to anything now,” he said. “We need to be very cool and cautious. […]