Both parties have since 1994 been content to say little or nothing about gun control, but the subject came up in last night’s presidential debate.
There were no great surprises in what either man said, with their remarks adhering pretty closely to their party platforms. Romney correctly noted that “automatic weapons” are already illegal (unless registered) and made a vain attempt to bring up the Fast & Furious scandal that was aborted by moderator Candy Crowley, who was seen by many as favoring the President.
Obama, for his part, reiterated the Democratic Party line that the 1994 legislation on “assault weapons” should be reinstated, but added this interesting proviso: “in my home town of Chicago, there’s an awful lot of violence and they’re not using AK-47s. They’re using cheap hand guns.” That’s an encouraging bow to reality, but one might wish he’d take the next logical leap to admitting that “assault weapons” bans are worthless. A cynic might suggest his idea of the next logical step would be to suggest banning handguns.
Both men agreed that changing lifestyles and attitudes in crime-ridden areas are more likely to be effective than any gun control measures, and I guess we can count that a big improvement over the rhetoric of past years. But if gun owners were suspicious of the President’s motives before the debate, he gave them no reason to be less suspicious.
It would have been nice to hear the President attempt to explain Fast & Furious, both in the context of the gun issue and in light of the “transparency” he promised in his 2008 campaign, but timely intervention from the moderator scotched that.