Throughout the last two years, the U.S. Senate has been a petri dish of bad gun control legislation. From Dianne Feinstein’s attempts to ban the vast majority of modern firearms to the Toomey-Manchin universal background check bill to which President Obama pinned his hopes (and whined like a petulant child when it didn’t clear the Democrat-controlled Senate) the possibility of a gun control bill passing out of that chamber has been way too close for comfort. Now, thanks to the efforts of the Republican party, it looks like we won’t have to worry about that for the foreseeable future . . .
As predicted by my favorite statistician, the Republican party now has control of both chambers of the U.S. congress. There was a moment a few months ago when it was starting to be a close race, but as of this morning Nate Silver pegged the probability of this outcome at 76.2%.
What does this mean for the future?
At the very least, we won’t see any more serious discussion of gun control proposals for at least the next two years. There’s no hope for passing any legislation calling for additional restrictions on the natural and constitutionally protected rights of Americans, so even bringing the subject up could be touchy. On the other hand, token displays might be on the horizon. Just like how the House has repeatedly passed laws repealing Obamacare, Senate Democrats might try to get gun control bills on the agenda just to get Republicans on the record as voting against them. “Look! They won’t even let us discuss this legislation to protect children!” All politics, naturally, but nothing with any reality of passing.
What might happen — and this I’m all aflutter about — is that we could see the pendulum actually start to swing the other way. National reciprocity. Shall-issue as the law of the land. Repeal of the Hughes Amendment. Changes to the National Firearms Act. It’s all on the table, even though none of it will be signed into law. While the Republicans control the legislature, a Democrat still has the power of the pen. The chances of Obama rubber stamping national reciprocity is about the same as me going on a date with Kirsten Weiss.
In short, not much will change. Republicans will want to exercise their political mandate, and Obama will do everything in his power to obstruct bills they pass. “Petulant child” perfectly describes the way he takes failure, and I don’t expect anything less going forward. He plans to continue to do whatever he wants, whether Congress is on board or not, and that’s going to lead to some interesting times ahead.