[Originally posted to Tumblr December 14]
A look back at the Newtown shooting, a few notes on recent gun control efforts, and the debate over armed officers/teachers in schools.
1.) Baseline. The archives this week will focus on the POLITICAL aftermath; i.e. attempts to use Newtown to pass gun legislation, and the concept of armed officers in schools. It is pointless to rehash the full timeline. While the NRA is a favorite boogeyman, they aren’t too relevant in a recap of post-Newtown stuff outside of an embarrassment of a post-Newtown press conference so we won’t be treating them like some hero here, either.
Another major part of all this was the spike in gun sales discussed back in Optimism. That was two weeks ago, so there is no real reason to re-tread that ground so early.
It is worth briefly noting the shooting that took place on Friday in Colorado, in which a student with a shotgun injured two before killing himself. We’re not going to get too much into that today, as the first details of a story are usually wrong, but it is worth acknowledging the event…..and the rather horrid timing. Now, on to the Newtown recap.
2.) Dancing in blood. Of course, within hours of the news breaking we had the calls for everyone else to suffer for the killer’s work. Prime among them, of course, was CNN’s Piers Morgan and Michael Moore; the latter of whom claimed the NRA was “doomed” because of the events.
The story brought up another interesting part of the media’s rush to exploit Newtown: deceptive video editing. MSNBC and NBC News aired a video that appeared to depict gun rights advocates as heckling the father of one of the victims. They were caught, of course (this is the age of the Internet), but refused to really apologize in any significant way.
Also, as expected, we had Fox News blaming video games with CNN later joining the festival. This isn’t worth wasting any more time on, so we won’t.
3.) Political exploits. And then there were the non-media gun control types. New York mayor Michael Bloomberg called for an Assault Weapons Ban because mass shootings “only happen in America”. In the same interview he admitted that his policies couldn’t have stopped the shooter, but that others might have been.
In a bizarre twist, we started seeing a little bit more candor from anti-gun politicos. Jerrold Nadler, who represents NYC said that, in order to pass gun control, President Obama had to “exploit” the shooting. Here in Georgia, a Democrat State Senator looked to introduce gun control in the 2013 session “to protect Georgians”. It should be noted that CCW on Campus/Bars/Church came within minutes of passing this year instead.
On the national level, Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Democrat Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced a so-called “compromise” bill called the “Public Safety and Second Amendment Rights Protection Act.” The bill, which both promised was not about gun registration, proposed background checks for all commercial sales of guns. Critics noted that the bill didn’t block the federal government from “recording, storing, collating, compiling, distributing, securing, retrieving, integrating, merging, using or… backing up its records” and also noted that New York Senator Chuck Schumer, famous for his anti-gun stance, also had a hand in crafting the “compromise.” Gun control supporters repeatedly used a poll suggesting “90% of Americans favored the bill” as reasoning for it to pass.
The bill, and many subsequent amendments failed to pass Congress. President Obama slammed the failure, also using the poll, and with some of the families of Sandy Hook victims behind him. The effort was later shelved, though a revival in 2014 is expected.
To the surprise of absolutely nobody, the families of the victims that supported gun control made more than a few appearances at press conferences held by Obama and others. To the point where Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) told CNN they were being used as “props.” They were, as Politico noted, “victims turned lobbyists” A Sandy Hook parent opposed gun control saw next to no airtime.
4.) “Nobody’s coming for your guns.” Throughout the proceedings on the Federal level, the term “registration” was avoided like a disease. Expanded background checks were never referred to as such, any bill that was introduced had to be followed with an explanation that “this is not registration, as our critics claim” or something along those lines. In fact, the constant refrain of “they are coming for our guns” was derided as paranoid by gun control advocates.
But on December 21st, Senator Feinstien suggested that she and others were floating the idea of a compulsory gun buyback program. Furthermore, in New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo suggested that “Confiscation could be an option” for the State’s gun control measures. Gov. Cuomo said “I don’t think legitimate sportsmen are going to say, ‘I need an assault weapon to go hunting.’ ”
The recent confiscation efforts in New York haven’t exactly helped the “nobody is coming for your guns” defense, either.
The gun control movement focused largely on the idea that gun control was supported by “sportsmen.” In other words, that certain gun owners supported gun control because the guns in question “weren’t used for hunting.” (Many gun rights advocates call these people “Fudds” in reference to the asphalt-thick cartoon character Elmer Fudd. In other words, a person who owns guns but will only fight the political battle if it directly impacts hunting.)
5.) Guns in Schools. Floated originally by the NRA in an otherwise humiliating press conference, the Newtown school shooting ignited a debate about allowing teachers to carry guns, or at the very least putting armed officers in schools. The idea was, originally, derided with the usual “more guns is not the solution” bit. The debate even led to a Moms Demand Action ad about whether body armor was a “new school uniform”. Here in Atlanta, APD announced a new unit built specifically to patrol area public schools. Newtown eventually voted to have armed guards in elementary schools as well, and even a school district in California made similar plans.
6). Looking ahead. Lets be honest, gun control simply isn’t popular. The emotional argument has worn out its effectiveness, and there is now a clear shift in opinion against it. The rise in gun sales and permits discussed back in Optimism wouldn’t have happened if there was a massive resistance to firearms.
As 2014 closes, expect to see at least an effort to reheat the emotion of Newtown, as anti-gunners have been trying all year to get that fire back. We are watching a movement desperate to maintain relevance. This does not mean that pro-gunners should slow down. If anything, that means pro-gunners should continue to challenge the rhetoric on a tactical level. The gun control movement is, as Bloomberg Businessweek put it, basically dead. Expect plenty of theatrics and emotional ploys on its way out.