It appears as though Congress is getting cold feet on the gun control issue. Pro-gun advocates in Washington were positively gloating on the talk shows on Sunday as they predicted that the Congress will come up empty on the issue of stricter gun laws– with the possible exception of more thorough background checks on prospective buyers of guns in the future. Even the relatively innocuous issue of high-capacity cartridge magazines seems doomed to be bypassed. As a recent Yahoo News story relates
After initial expressions of outrage, lawmakers and the White House are getting down to counting votes on what can actually be achieved on Capitol Hill, where limits on gun rights have has been a taboo for more than a decade.
What has happened is that the memories of the terrible events in Newtown, Connecticut have faded and the muscle of the NRA, which brags 100,000 brand spanking new members, has grown. Consequently the Congress has decided in its wisdom that, barring an executive order (which seems doubtful), things had better stay pretty much as they are. Even Vice President Joe Biden’s recent recommendations to lawmakers which are said to leave out of consideration the dreaded assault weapons will be weakened even further. And this despite the fact that the President recently proclaimed that no weapons should be left out of consideration.
The real problem here, of course, is that Congress really doesn’t worry about doing the right thing any more — if they ever did. They worry about re-election and they recall the gun legislation of 1994 after which the Democrats who supported that legislation were voted out of office as the Republicans assumed the majority; later Al Gore was defeated in his attempt to win the White House — with many thanks to the power of the NRA that went after the dirty Democrats for having the audacity to vote for stricter gun laws. This Congress has apparently decided — if the votes have been counted correctly — not to make the same mistake twice.
As the economist Joseph Schumpeter noted long ago, what it really comes down to is that we are dealing with professional politicians whose only concern is with winning votes and staying in office. They aren’t any good at doing much else and they know they have a good thing going in a job that requires no positive results. It’s all about self-interest: the hell with the “common good”; it’s a dated notion anyway. I am sure I am not the only one who has received phone calls requesting money for a Senator who will run again in two years. Two Years, for goodness sake!
Don’t get me wrong. I am not in a position to question the courage of members of this Congress. I am scared to death of one gun, much less 5 million of them — which the NRA boasts is its membership. In any event, the Congress will make the prudent choice and veer away from the moral high ground once again as the memories of the dead children in Sandy Hook School fade and the fat-cats who manufacture guns and support the NRA sit and gloat while their membership grows, their profits rise, and fearful people buy more of their weapons while they continue to threaten recalcitrant politicians with removal from office. It’s called “real-life politics, circa 2013” and it stinks.