Candidate Obama pledged to lift what he portrayed as an iron curtain concealing all things presidential (i.e., Bush league). By almost any measure, the business of government under President Obama has been even more opaque. So much so that the President recently accepted an award for government transparency . . . wait for it . . . in a secret White House ceremony. So when the Washington Post wanted to profile the administration’s point man on gun policy, the fact that Steve Croley refused to be interviewed shouldn’t come as a surprise. The fact that he exists does . . .
That’s right, the Obama administration has a gun policy advisor named Steven Croley. If you believe the WaPo, Croley’s low profile and reluctance to push an aggressive anti-gun agenda has less to do with a dearly held belief in limited government (as if) than political expediency.
Croley’s zippered lips reflect Democrats’ decision to remain mute on gun control—even in the wake of the Tucson rampage. Post-Loughner gun control bills came (e.g., Chuck Schumer’s effort to bar anyone who’s been arrested on a drug charge in the last five years from owning a gun) and post-Loughner bills went nowhere fast (e.g., Frank Lautenberg and Carolyn McCarthy’s proposed ban on magazines holding more than ten cartridges).
The President promised a major speech on the issue. And delivered a tepid editorial. And a gun summit that’s best described as a damp squib.
The Post describes the man not orchestrating gun control on the President’s behalf as a tough-guy gun owner with movie star good looks who grew up deer hunting with his father. That can’t be bad, right? Hold on. They also describe Croley as a regulatory genius who “favors closing a loophole in the law that allows unlicensed gun dealers to sell arms without background checks, especially at gun shows.”
The WaPo wishfully, wistfully suggests that Croley’s background in administrative law has prepared him for “figuring out how state agencies can make their records readily available to a federal gun database.” On the other hand . . . gun control is “an issue with which he has little experience.”
So, if I’m reading this correctly, Croley’s a policy wonk with limited experience in the area of firearm regulation whose job it is to make recommendations to the president on gun control issues. Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?
Much to the consternation of people like McCarthy and Lautenberg, Croley has shown as much interest in new gun control initiatives as AARP has in NAMBLA’s mailing list. The Post describes a meeting between Croley and Paul Helmke of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence. Croley seems to have seen his boss’s habit of voting ‘present’ on politically sticky issues, and raised him one. As soon as Helmke raised the issue of high capacity magazines, Croley ended the meeting.
Before gun owners get too comfortable with the administration’s inaction on the subject, they should remember Obama’s campaign pledges to reinstitute the assault weapons ban, close the gun show loophole and remove the requirement that the FBI destroy background check records.
The WaPo piece describes a meeting between Croley’s boss and Jim Brady’s spouse. Obama assured her that gun control is “very much on the agenda.” They are “working on it.” The administration has “to go through a few processes, but under the radar.”
If Obama is reelected in 2012, he’ll be freed of the political imperative of avoiding hot-button issues like gun control. Even with Republicans controlling one or both houses of Congress. Equally chilling, Obama’s shown a willingness and ability to achieve policy goals he values most through “extra-legislative” means.
Lest we forget, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was set to implement a long gun registry for thousands of gun dealers on our southern border before the ATF Gunwalker gunrunning scandal erupted. This without Congressional mandate or approval.
Was Croley in on this scheme? Was he its champion? TTAG’s left a message on the man’s cell.
Meanwhile, it isn’t hard to see what attracted Obama to a wonk like Croley in the first place. In his book, “Regulation and Public Interests: The Possibility of Good Regulatory Government,” Croley wrote that in a complex world, regulation represents “the least-worst solution to pressing social problems.” It’s hard to imagine a better distillation of the last two years.