It hasn’t been the greatest week for supporters of the gun control agenda in Washington and some state capitals.
First, Senate Democratic leadership appeared to wave a white flag on Dianne Feinstein’s signature ban on modern sporting rifles and factory-standard magazines. While it will still likely be offered via amendment, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid signaled it lacks even 40 votes in the Senate and likely won’t be part of the “base bill” that he plans to bring to the floor after the Easter recess. The White House emitted only the faintest whispers of protest, telling CNN that “We’re going to work on this. We’re going to find the votes, and it deserves a vote. Let’s see if we can get it done.”
A CNN poll released this week showed why Feinstein’s bill might not be going anywhere. Support for more gun control is slipping nationwide, according to the poll. Fifty-five percent of the people in the national poll want no or only minor restrictions on owning guns. Feinstein’s sweeping bill, which would ban entire classes of firearms, doesn’t exactly qualify as minor. On top of that, the poll showed Obama’s job approval ratings have gone down 15 points in just two months. Fifty percent of people now disapprove of the job Obama is doing.
It’s not just Obama feeling the heat. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has seen his poll numbers plummet after expending gobs of political capital to ram through the so-called SAFE Act. The New York Times, of all outlets, diagnoses his problems in an article entitled “New Gun Laws Erode Support for Cuomo.” Cuomo’s job performance has plunged to an all-time low, 19 points below where he was just four months ago. Cuomo’s popularity among Republicans is even lower. Last summer the Democrat had a 69 percent approval rating among Republicans. That has now tumbled to just 38 percent.
Now that he’s caught wind of the discontent the public has with his legislation, Cuomo is backpedaling fast. At a press conference Wednesday, Cuomo announced he would allow possession of 10-round magazines, although he insists they still may not be loaded with more than seven rounds unless they’re being used at a range or competition. Gun owners in the state remain unimpressed.
But while some politicians might be reassessing the politics of pushing for new gun laws, others continue charging full speed ahead. Colorado governor John Hickenlooper recently signed three new gun bills into law this week. Lawmakers in Connecticut are poised to pass a package of legislation that may force manufacturers to pull thousands of jobs out of the state. Those are just two reminders that the fight for the Second Amendment and our lawful industry is far from over. We must be careful not to let down our guard, especially now that we are on the verge of debate in the U.S. Senate.
Larry Keane is senior vice president and general counsel for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. Follow him on Twitter at @lkeane.