I’m watching the White House press briefing right now, and I get the distinct feeling that Jay Carney — the President’s mouthpiece — is walking back the gun control rhetoric that the president has been spouting. He keeps talking about how gun control is “one of the pieces” and how the president is looking at improving existing laws and only possibly new laws. It really looks like Jay is laying the ground work for a drastically scaled back assault on the 2nd Amendment than we were expecting, and part of that may have to do with money . . .

On Sunday night, Speaker Boehner (Republican leader of the House) started giving ground on the fiscal cliff negotiations. There was talk of putting some of President Obama’s tax increases into the budget, something that we hadn’t quite seen yet in the negotiations. It was President Obama’s big talking point during the campaign, his tax on the wealthy to support some of the entitlements that Americans have come to expect, and something that I’m sure the Republicans wanted to keep out of the budget in order to “stick it” to the President for winning.

But they gave ground. They’re talking about including it, letting President Obama get his win on the budget and keep his campaign promise.

Following the events of Friday, a bunch of new polls went into the field to test the waters for increased gun control. In the immediate aftermath of the shooting, when people were still reeling from what happened, increased gun control went from something supported by only 39% of respondents to 57%.

You’d think that would mean a green light for politicians to go ahead and make whatever laws they want, but a closer look at the polling numbers reveals only a very slim majority in favor of an assault weapons ban, 52%. High capacity magazine bans only got a 2 point bump to 59%

What the polls show is that while the public thinks something must be done, it looks like they favor stricter enforcement of existing laws rather than new ones. In fact, 57% of responses indicated that they preferred stricter enforcement while 40% wanted new laws.

These numbers were calculated during a period when the shock of the event was still greatest. People were still mad and didn’t have time to let their rational thoughts catch up. And yet, the numbers still reveal a country that values its access to firearms for self defense.

I get the feeling that the politicians are seeing the writing on the wall. These numbers will normalize, dropping back down closer to the pre-shooting levels in a couple months, and possibly further by the time their re-election rolls around.

But the thing that people will remember and keep watching is the budget and how it impacts their taxes. It looks to me like the Republicans are offering the Democrats a carrot, hoping to trade some political gains in the budget for staying away from the topic of gun control in legislation.

From what I can see, I would expect closure of the “gun show loophole” to be the most likely legislation to come out of this whole mess — an end to private sales of firearms. Possibly a high capacity magazine ban if Dianne Feinstein can rabble rouse enough votes. But from the rhetoric here on Tuesday morning, it looks like the big changes are off the table.

Or I could just be overly optimistic.

[Polling information from here, full breakdown coming]

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87 Responses to Jay Carney Walking Back President Obama’s Gun Control Support?

  1. I don’t think Obama is the one we need to worry about in terms of gun control. It’s the vast number of senate members and representatives that want it, and whom Obama won’t get in their way. Thankfully there are more pro-gun rights individuals in the house than the senate. There is the fear of exectutive orders. I don’t know enough about EO’s to comment on them, so I don’t know if something like an AWB is within his individual power to implement. Anyone have any thoughts on that?

    • EO biggest threats are ammo supply and Speed of background checks. Both could be effected by BO and EO being signed. Everyone could start getting holds on ALL NCIC checks and that would in all effect put a X day hold on Gun Sales. He couldn’t do anything but slow down sales and make people mad but Maryland and many other states feel that X day holds are a good idea. The other is using the EPA to control the sale of cheap ammo causing the cost to go way up. Let face it if ammo cost $10 a round how many of us would still shot frequently or at all.

      Thanks
      Robert

        • Chwbacca Defense,

          I don’t know. I guess it depends on how the data is shared with the state? If part of the check is a DB check with ATF on the PA side it could effect there process. On the other hand if they get nightly dumps of the data it likely wouldn’t

          Thanks
          Robert

        • Id think a EO would have happened already if Obama knew he could get away with it. I know court battles would kill alot of it. Thats why he choosing to stay quiet let congress battle.

  2. I was wondering about this, even before this press conference. If you don’t believe that there wouldn’t be some kind of quid pro quo between the two sides on the gun control issue and the fiscal cliff issue, you don’t know how Washington works.

    • The NRA was damned if they did, damned if they didn’t. I think they did the right thing by at least waiting until the bodies were in the ground before they got political. Unfortunately the ghouls like Finestein, Bloomberg, etc were ready to jump up on the coffins and use them as soap boxes.

    • Actually, their silence has resulted in some PR wins for the NRA. The number of death threats on Twitter and other social media are useful for the NRA to say: “You’re calling _us_ killers? When you liberals are calling for the murder of NRA execs and members in the open? Really?”

      There’s a bunch of unhinged liberals out there, and they shouldn’t own firearms.

      • Please, enough with the “liberals” label. I’ve seen emotional, anti-gun rhetoric from across the political spectrum among my friends and family. This is a fear and ignorance driven anti-gun thing, not a liberal thing.

        • Agreed. Opinions on the gun issues are not as simplistic as conservative-liberal. Some of us are pro-environment, pro-hunting, and pro-gun.

        • Fear is right on AG, they are scarred sh.tless of us. They are not afraid of cops with guns so? WTF,?, Randy

        • +1, I am 1000000000% liberal, and a staunch gun supporter. If just one person HAD a gun, those kids might still be alive. We are NOT living in a fairy tale world.

        • In this case, I’m quite certain of what I’m saying.

          There’s a brand of keyboard commando in some of these discussions that’s always typing threats far in excess of their ability to deliver any results… and they’re from the universe of political liberals who like to make these sorts of statements regardless of the issue. The issue this week is gun control. Last week it was right to work legislation in Michigan – and they were making death threats and trying intimidation.

        • I just don’t see the current liberal cabal being accepting of guns. How are those here who call themselves liberal squaring this? When I think liberal, I think Feinstein, Pelosi, Reid, Obama. This bunch exhibits zero regard for the individual rights codified in the first ten amendments. Each is willing, sometimes even eager, to cast them aside, i.e. infringe them, for some purpose or cause they deem greater.

          Then they consistently misidentify rights like having an education, a living wage, medical care, and so on. Guns simply can not be held by the citizen if these pseudo-rights are to be pursued. They can’t be because providing them requires the servitude of those who must be made to provide them.

          Are you sure that you pro-gun liberals aren’t really libertarian?

    • nah, it was smart to shut up. Everyone expecting the NRA to comment was based on a false proposition that they made or enabled this tragedy and that they are guilty of something or responsible. They probably see this as a tragedy and a mental health and crime issue… which is what it is.

      Honestly we could have better regulation on illegal gun use in this country IF people who know nothing about how guns are used and traded would stay out of it. We can’t talk about fighting crime because they’ve made the issue about inconsequential sh*t like mag capacity, and stock configurations. Instead of improving our own house on our own terms we spend all of our energy fighting off and deflecting wacky BS attacks on things that don’t matter perpetrated by people who aren’t even part of the community.

      -D

  3. This whole situation has brought a whole bunch of supposed “pro” gun people out of the closet…revealing what they really are: Anti gunners.

    I think there was a Senator from W. Va, Va and Pa who are going to have a lot of splainin to do once the next election cycle comes around. Hopefully the NRA kept soundbites of all those interviews.

  4. I don’t think BO is an irrational man. I imagine his push will be comprehensive and I imagine it will include gun restrictions. I feel like it will be different than what I would normally expect however. I think there is going to be a large healthcare component, and possibly some real acknowledgement that schools should have guards or be gated. Congress is however absurdly stupid and irrational (and self interested in being re-elected over and over on the long term). They are as fickle and ignorant as their media cousins that they energetically swap fluids with all day long. They’ll try to ban the symbols and symptoms of the problem rather than address the root causes.

    -D

    • Oh, I don’t know Don, he looks as rational as any other politician. Says what people want to hear, then pushes through whatever he really wants.

      Personally, I think the guy likes guns and anything that goes boom. He has used like 3 times as many drone attacks against targets in Pakistan as Bush. Apparently does not care how many supposedly “innocent” bystanders get whacked as long as he gets the main bad guy. He ordered in the Osama raid without even telling a supposedly friendly country that he was sending in an attack (Pakistan). On that note, did you hear him, not one of his mouthpieces, but him say “Oops!! Sorry we invaded your country and shot up the place” Nope, just more mealy mouth politician crap.

      Also, do not forget loosening the shoot to kill orders for the Navy on the pirates off the coast of Africa. Plus, what about the raid in Africa against the kidnappers?? Interesting that all 20-24 (forgot exact number) of kidnappers got killed. No one wounded?, or captured? Hmmmm, how interesting. After he gave the go ahead on that raid, some did raise that question. Heard anything about that lately? Nope.

      So, basically a sneaky sucker, just like the last 43 presidents or so. You know, the ones that got something done. Some of things work, some don’t, some even really suck.

      • I;m glad you included my buddy bush in this. I don’t remember bush saying “sorry world” for starting a war over imaginary weapons. Maybe I missed it though, Randy

    • The idea of a “comprehensive” bill scares the ever living sh!t out me. It will be called “The Omnibus School Safety and Children’s Health Bill” and it will mandate mental health solutions, school security solutions, government co-parenting solutions, all with carbon emissions reductions, and organic tofu school lunch programs,. . .oh, and common sense (read severe) controls on weapons.

      Thanks so much, Don. I wasn’t truly afraid until just now. Think I’m gonna be sick.

  5. Singer/songwriter Regina Spektor posted the following on Facebook on December 14th: “All the innocent school shooting victims… I can’t believe these numbers… We need to reform gun laws- this is insane… It all feels like some crazy nightmare…”

    I tracked the comments in reply to her up until they reached 400+ (there are 900+ now). I was shocked to see that the fans of this 20-something musician (who sings about cleavage, sex and drugs along with more mundane themes) were almost half pro-gun. There was a young woman from Portland, OR with a handle like “hippy chick” who commented that guns are not the root problem and gun controls won’t keep mass killings from happening. Again, I was shocked.

    The basis for discussing firearms in this country have changed radically over the past decade or two, away from gun control.

    • I hope the (legitimately) skeptical and cynical youth making up gun culture 3.0 see through all of this BS and help the right thing get done with all of this.

      This is after all a generation which grew up in the most violent era of video games and TV and movies who are sitting there scratching their reasonable and rational non-violent heads wondering what these old birds in congress are talking about when they say “violent video games make people killers”. Kind of hard to believe an argument when your own self is the proof that it’s BS…

      -D

    • Good comments. I think I’ve stumbled across Hippie Chick’s comments elsewhere on the Internet. Increasing numbers of women (even urban liberal women who are in greater numbers living single with a child) see guns as tools of empowerment, self-defense, and prepping and not just a toy for boys anymore.

  6. Good article Nick. Some rational opinions stated here. If I was to question anything in the article, the last paragraph on hi cap magazines and gun shows.

    As usual, we will here lots of yada, yada, yada from the politicians. Of course the press will beat it to death to generate advising revenue. The public is getting wise to the whole deal. It’s the bad guy!

    So, other than the mass hysteria of everyone buying every magazine and gun they can, driving up prices. I sometimes wonder how much money the gun manufacturers pour into the pockets of anti-gun politicians. Scare tactics sure is helpful in driving up sales. Darn, should have bought stock in S&W in 2007.

    In the long run, do not expect any major changes in the law.

  7. Don’t discount the fact that an AWB could end costing tens of thousands of jobs in an economy that is struggling. Obama knows that the control of Congress after 2014 hinges on jobs and not guns.

    • And this is why we need to keep many of the factories in the North. The Dems won’t care if all the jobs that are lost from an AWB come from Red States.

  8. I read this just the opposite way. POTUS is threatening even more extensive action than we expected and it will be across a broader front, too. I expect that we’ll get c0rnh0led in ways we haven’t yet imagined. And with both Republicans and Democratics dabbing away their crocodile tears, I expect that there are more than enough votes in both Houses to cause great harm to 2A. A second massacre, if you will. Bend over and wait for it, and don’t forget to say thank you.

    • Yep. No offense, Nick, but I think you’re giving them way too much leeway because you voted for the guy and are hoping you’re right, when so far you and other pro-gun progs here have been proven wrong about him.

      If I’m off base, do let me know. But my perusal of pro-gun liberal forums has revealed a **** ton of cognitive dissonance among the pro-gun left.

    • Nope, sorry, must disagree. I have been listening to the “the sky is falling, the sky is falling” since I voted in my first election in 1972.

      Have not been bopped in the head yet. I remember the panic with the AWB in 94. Hmmmm, let’s see, never ran out of choices at any gun shows I attended in 94, 95, 96, 97. You get the picture. Prices however, did go up. Imagine that.

  9. You can’t legislate dysfunctionality. If someone’s a screwball, they’ll walk in a classroom with a couple gallons of gas and a zippo. I think Rwanda showed us that you don’t really need a firearm to kill a large number of people. Misdirected motivation is far more dangerous than the tool used as a means to an end.

  10. If its the Clinton AWB then the guns will still get made with fixed stocks, no bayonet lugs and 10 round mags. It will give the appearance of doing something when nothing is really fixed. Crazy people will still do crazy things. But people’s ghat feel good about doing “something”.

    I guess we would also see a new law making it a crime to make a private sale within 100 yards of a gun show. Still can’t stop states allowing unregulated private sales if the state wants to.

    • Chris, that’s basically the law I’m stuck with in Massachusetts. It’s been on the books since 1994 and it is a nuisance. I can have an AR — heck, I can have a hundred ARs — but with only one evil feature (the pistol grip) and as many ten-round magazines as I can afford. As for pistols, I can have as many as I want and as many ten-round mags as I want, but no threaded barrels.

      However, that’s not what’s coming down the pipe now. It’s going to be a lot worse.

  11. So, what would be the laws on private party sales of firearms then? In what way would my ability to sell my private property be limited?

    • If you get caught doing it at a gun show then you suffer the penalty unless you do a back ground check? Another feel good law that will do nothing though.

        • If they made private sales require background checks I’d imagine the gun show organizers would simply set up some phones, may increase the cost of a booth. I crossed over from the land of NJ to visit my first gun show in PA a few weekends ago. NICS was being dialed in from cell phones and serial numbers and personal information being rattled off. It’s not like some secret squirrel phone is required.

        • No. But California requires all sales to go through an FFL, and some dealers go to gun shows for the primary purpose of doing transfers (at $75 a pop). Nor do I believe that any such requirements raise 2A issues, any more than doing the background check when using a dealer does..

        • @Ralph. Then they would probably just charge more for a booth. I’m sure one of the many FFLs who bring product to a gun show would be willing to contract out one of their employees for the day to make phone calls for you.

    • I always thought it would be an easy process to regulate private sales by simply making it a minimal charge background check that the two parties enter in to.

      The seller and the buyer meet at a store, dealer etc., fill out the appropriate paper work and transfer the firearm when all comes back clean.

      Considering most checks run about $5 and most transfers between $15 to $20, I’ve never seen a big issue with closing the private sale “loophole” if this was the fashion it could be closed in.

      • Some of us don’t want the government controlling what we do with our property. Nor do we want our names on the government’s gun owner database.

    • In CA all sales, including private, must go through an FFL with the NICS check. That’s what I would expect from legislation on the gun show loophole.

  12. Curious, I always wanted to ask this prior to this recent tragedy but was “afraid” people would think I’m promoting the idea rather than just asking about it: But would anyone care if modern military-style rifles were just traded as are handguns? 21 to buy, FFL transfer, NICS?

  13. There are some states that do not report mental health records to the background check system. I would support something like that, and was actually one of the main complaints in bill write up for the reciprocity act.

    I’m kind of indifferent on the whole background checks on private sales issue. I understand the arguments for and against. I appreciate the value of background checks, and if you’re someone that agrees the problem is the mental health system and not guns, then you should too. At the same time I appreciate the opposite extreme that background checks are inherently an infringment.

    • There are some states that do not report mental health records to the background check system.

      This is certainly correct. Some states do run their own background check, which covers mental health records, but most do not.

      I’m not sure how much it would mean if records were more available. A lot of would-be murderers are careful to avoid contacts with the system. And when they do, like Loughner, the system (in his case, the Army) will not report. As you recall, Loughner failed his drug test, which was an automatic DQ. The Army did not report, so he was able to buy his gun from an FFL.

      • If pro gun lobbies agreed to or made efforts to require these different things to be reported in certain organizations/states, I think it would go a long way to appease not only anti-2A folk but most importantly the on the fence public. All this withough making any negative effect on us already law abiding citizens who already pass a background check.

    • As a California resident forced to do all PPT’s thru an FFL, I’ll tell you right now, forget about ever stumbling across a good deal ever again. Unless you are getting a firearm from a personal friend, no savvy FFL is going to let anything collectable or cool slip by at under book.

    • I mentioned this once before in a previous section. Not only does Florida supposedly not participate, they are NOT allowed to participate due to the issuing agency being the Dept. of Agriculture and not allowed access to medical records and some law enforcement lists.

    • A 103 student school district? Wow. My wife is a high school math teacher and teaches 150+ students in her classes alone.

      I don’t see something like this scaling up to even small size “normal” school districts. Not with the already tight budgets they are facing.

    • Does Robert Farago know about this? There should be a post on this.

      How does one get in touch with him? I can’t find an email address or contact page.

  14. I agree with Robert, but then again I have never much feared the prospect of executive orders suddenly changing the 2A landscape. An executive order, by definition, is a method of implementing a law where the Congress has delegated the autority to enforce the law. I know of no current federal legislation that wiould allow the executive to ban guns or any particular guns, much less retrict the sale of ammunition.
    I agree that the most likely things we are going to see are strengthening of the NICS sustem to bring all states in line with the reporting requirements. A ban on +10 mags for ARs is possible, but then again, Obama clearly recognizes that evil black rifles are not the problem as most violent crime is committed with handguns; instead it is the culture of machismo and violence in our inner cities that is the problem, a problem that is amenable only to a multipronged approach. Even with all the brouhaha, there are not enough votes in Congress to push Fienstein’s proposed ban through.

  15. Like many other commenters on this post, I fell there is more to fear from State government rather than the Fed side, especially those (like me) who live in States hostile to gun owners….like Massachusetts.

  16. http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/12/17/press-briefing-press-secretary-jay-carney-121712

    “So the President’s position on the assault weapons ban has not changed; he still supports its reenactment. But you’ll hear from him I think, as he said last night, in the coming weeks to speak more specifically about what he thinks we can do moving forward.”

    “The President supports the assault weapons ban and the reinstatement of the assault weapons ban, but we have to —

    Q — tell me about his thinking. I mean like has he taken one measure, one act — one — to remove the weapons of war that he talks about?

    MR. CARNEY: Again, he supports legislation that is designed to ban some weapons. But as you know, this is a complex issue and that requires complex solutions. “

  17. From what I can see, I would expect closure of the “gun show loophole” to be the most likely legislation to come out of this whole mess — an end to private sales of firearms.

    I’m not sure such a law would survive constitutional scrutiny. Inter-state transfers are properly regulated under federal law per the commerce clause, but purely intra-state transfers are outside the power of the Feds.

    Now, the states certainly have the power to regulate intra-state sales and have the authority to require private transfers to go through a dealer (and many do.)

    I’m not sure the Republican house would countenance such an invasion of state authority. Maybe, it’s hard to say, but I think they’d catch hell from their constituents.

    OTOH, a ban on mail-order ammo sales falls squarely within Federal power (regulating the mails and the other instrumentalities of interstate commerce) so I would expect to see that first. Or, perhaps a requirement that ammo sales over X number of rounds be processed through an FFL dealer.

    • “OTOH, a ban on mail-order ammo sales falls squarely within Federal power (regulating the mails and the other instrumentalities of interstate commerce) so I would expect to see that first. Or, perhaps a requirement that ammo sales over X number of rounds be processed through an FFL dealer.”

      I’d rather see “processed through an FFL” than a ban.

    • Assuming a ban on mail-order ammo sales were enacted and/or would be required to be processed through a FFL would the same apply to reloading components such as powder/primers?

      A related question… what recourse, if any, would an ammo manufacturer that deals primarily via mail order (Georgia Arms for example) have if a mail order ammo ban was enacted and effectively destroyed the business? I assume the federal response would be “tough sh*t” but would a small business have any legal ground to stand on when the fed has destroyed their livlihood?

      • my wife will wonder why I am making her, her mother, her brother and other relatives order ammo for me . . . but ok

      • It’s important to remember that mail-order ammo is a relatively recent development. When I first started buying guns in 1980, there was no such thing. Not only that, for any ammo that was classified as “handgun ammo” you had to show an over-21 ID and your name and other information were entered into a book.

        All those requirements disappeared when the FOPA went into effect in 1986, which also opened the door for mail order ammo sales.

        Bottom line, “mail-order ammo” is younger than most of the people on TTAG. Being as that is the case, and is probably the least controversial law that could be passed, I would expect it first.

        To answer your question about businesses that primarily deal in mail order ammo, you are correct, the fed response would be along the lines of too bad/so sad/sucks to be you/get a life.

  18. To be honest I am not so worried about Obama or his administration at this point. Leland Yee is at it again and will introduce the bullet button ban yet again here in California. They are also looking at ammo sale limits, which I will assume also mean no online purchases, plus a host of other legislation which from the looks of it does nothing.

  19. I honestly can’t believe anyone is still even remotely optimistic about the future of this country, the 2A, and the Constitution in general.

  20. Overall I think you underestimate Republicans thinking there that there stupid. They know most come from pro 2a states and making a AWB would be suicide where as any most are fighting over taxes and know most gun owners or farmers or conservatives care less about taxes than a ban on there property (guns are person property). I spent hours yesterday calling Senators and Congressmen and most though have not commented on the murders say they still are pro 2A. The media is trying to lie and stretch the truth to make it look like everyone wants to ban guns. today AP reported Sen Grassley of IA wanted to ban guns called his office and internet talked to his staff and they said they misquoted him. He said we should look at ways to stop mad men from murders in the future and on his internet sight said guns are not the thing to blame. So some of this crap we hear is the New media lieing to get a ban passed. We must continue pressure to let them know we want to protect our rights.

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