The PJ Tatler

Did Obama Just Give Us The 2014 Midterms?

Will this be 1994 reloaded?  After Congress passed the first Federal Assault Weapons ban that year, Republicans roared back into power during the ’94 midterms.  Yes, the 1992 House Banking Scandal, where members of Congress were able to overdraw their House checking accounts without penalty, also contributed to Republican electoral success, but can it be duplicated this year?  Conservatives are already livid over the 23 executive orders the president signed today to curb gun violence, as school children stood behind him in a gross display of emotional pandering to the public.  However, looking at the ’94 midterms, and Al Gore’s attempt to out gun control Sen. Bill ” Dollar Bill” Bradley (D-NJ) during the 2000 primaries, it’s not irrational to say that 2014 could be another Democratic defeat.

As The Tatler noted today, there are twenty-three  gun control measures – mandated by executive order – set forth by this administration.

  1.  Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal agencies to make relevant data available to the federal background check system.
  2. Address unnecessary legal barriers, particularly relating to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, that may prevent states from making information available to the background check system.
  3. Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.
  4. Direct the Attorney General to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun to make sure dangerous people are not slipping through the cracks.
  5. Propose rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a full background check on an individual before returning a seized gun.
  6. Publish a letter from ATF to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.
  7. Launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign.
  8. Review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes (Consumer Product Safety Commission).
  9. Issue a Presidential Memorandum to require federal law enforcement to trace guns recovered in criminal investigations.
  10. Release a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.
  11. Nominate an ATF director.
  12. Provide law enforcement, first responders, and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations.
  13. Maximize enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime.
  14. Issue a Presidential Memorandum directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence.
  15. Direct the Attorney General to issue a report on the availability and most effective use of new gun safety technologies and challenge the private sector to developinnovative technologies.
  16. Clarify that the Affordable Care Act does not prohibit doctors asking their patients about guns in their homes.
  17. Release a letter to health care providers clarifying that no federal law prohibits them from reporting threats of violence to law enforcement authorities.
  18. Provide incentives for schools to hire school resource officers.
  1. Develop model emergency response plans for schools, houses of worship and institutions of higher education.
  2. Release a letter to state health officials clarifying the scope of mental health services that Medicaid plans must cover.
  3. Finalize regulations clarifying essential health benefits and parity requirements within ACA exchanges.
  4. Commit to finalizing mental health parity regulations.
  5. Launch a national dialogue led by Secretaries Sebelius and Duncan on mental health.

The total cost of this new anti-gun push is $500 million dollars, but Oliver Know at Yahoo! News added that “administration officials on a conference call previewing the announcement fleshed out some important details (on condition that they not be named—and left some important questions unanswered:”

They wouldn’t say whether any of the steps the president is recommending would have prevented the massacre at Sandy Hook and other recent mass shootings. One senior official on the call did say, “There’s no question that both the actions that he’s taking and the legislation that he’s proposing will save lives.”

They did not provide an estimate of how many lives would be saved annually if the president got everything he wanted, saying the social science on gun deaths is not precise enough to do so.

– Obama isn’t sending “specific legislative language” to Congress, the officials said, instead following his usual blueprint of laying out principles and then letting lawmakers craft a bill.

– In keeping with the president’s promises, his proposals would limit the manufacture of new assault weapons and ammunition clips with more than 10 bullets—but would not affect those already on the market.

– How did they settle on 10 bullets (and not seven, or 15)? One official said that number was taken from the 1994 assault weapons ban that Obama hopes to renew and strengthen.

– Was the so-called “Fast and Furious” gun trafficking scandal a factor in shaping the president’s proposals? “It was not,” said one official.

So, we don’t know if these new measure will save lives, but we’re going to pass more laws to make it harder for law-abiding citizens to defend themselves.  Yes, that sounds very much like government thinking.  However, as this debate drags on, conservatives should make this issue front-and-center for the 2014 midterms.  History and the facts are on our side, and at the end of the day – that’s what makes good policy, not hyper-emotionalism.