Dangerous Gun Lobby Seizes Platform from President

Yesterday, the President rolled out his answer to the Newtown massacre. He’s putting the guy who was put in charge of the Middle Class Task Force during a different crisis in charge of a similar commission to solve gun violence.

If you’re wondering how Joe Biden does with these task force thingies, here’s what the MCTF promised to deliver:

  • Expanding education and lifelong training opportunities
  • Improving work and family balance
  • Restoring labor standards, including workplace safety
  • Helping to protect middle-class and working-family incomes
  • Protecting retirement security

Ahem. Given that Obama’s gun control press conference was dominated by questions about his plans to make retirement less secure by cutting Social Security, I guess we shouldn’t put too much stock in Biden’s new Task Force.

Meanwhile, the NRA has obviously put more serious thought into how to “lead” on this issue than the White House. They have scheduled a Friday night news dump press conference for tomorrow, at which they will describe how they plan to be “part of the solution.”

Few reporters are going to dedicate a lot of energy to a press conference as they’re trying to pack up for Christmas.

But the press conference did provide Meet the Press with an excuse to schedule Wayne LaPierre for a one-on-one chat with hack David Gregory. No matter what you think of MTP, it accords the leader of a group that has spent decades making it easier for gun nuts to massacre people a certain stature and the opportunity to frame this debate.

Mind you, I don’t blame the NRA here, I blame the White House. The White House has a use-it-or-lose-it soapbox. And in this case, they seem to have had little interest in using it.

Which suits LaPierre and his massacre-enablers just fine.

Marcy has been blogging full time since 2007. She’s known for her live-blogging of the Scooter Libby trial, her discovery of the number of times Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, and generally for her weedy analysis of document dumps.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including the Guardian, Salon, and the Progressive, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse and dog in Grand Rapids, MI.

14 replies
  1. Peterr says:

    Ah yes . . . I can hear the voices in the Oval office: “We are concerned about gun violence, but we need to keep our powder dry for the budget battles.”

    Keeping their powder dry is the SOP of the Obama administration.

  2. John B. says:

    so, on the MTP clownshow there won’t be anybody else at the table to challenge Mr. Pierre on his worldview and solutions to assault gun massacres? Just Stretch? Well, I know we can count on Dancin’ Dave to ask the tough questions…

  3. klynn says:


    THAT is perfect. Simple and to the point. Thank EW.

    MAME — Mother Against Massacre Enablers.

  4. John Casper says:

    Thanks ew.

    I’ll be watching to see if Joe “we will not touch Social Security,” Biden’s legislation includes taxes/increased regulations on ammunition. AFAIK, gun manufacturers give away the guns at cost. Their net income is from ammo.

    Although it would not have saved any lives at Sandy Hook Elementary, an interesting wedge issue is where the ammo that slaughtered the innocents and teachers in Connecticut was made. Is demanding that all ammo be manufactured in the US something that should be looked at?

    Another wedge issue might be higher taxes on high velocity weapons/ammo. Those do a lot more damage and the rounds travel a lot further.

  5. Jeffrey Kaye says:

    Biden’s job — and he’s done it in the past, as you note — is damage control. That’s what he’s good at.

    I had direct contact with this on my reporting on the IG report re drugging detainees. Biden was one of the Senators who tasked that report. He and the others made sure, by the language of their tasking, that the “investigation” would be limited. (I wrote on this.) When the report was done and I called Biden and the other Senators (Biden was VP by then) for reaction, not one bothered to even reply.

    Concern is definitely a one way street in Washington.

    Meanwhile, like those impassioned about the issue behind Occupy Wall Street in a year or so, let’s put all this in a time capsule. We’ll see that after all the sound and fury, it will all signify nothing. (The nothing is what comes out of Washington, not the very deeply felt protests surrounding the issue by the populace.)

  6. lefty665 says:

    What’s the matter, why isn’t everybody happy?

    After much ranting and grandstanding we’ll go back to the ineffective Brady ban, and the trade off is just trashing SS, tax cuts for the rich… Issues are not real, they are just opposing scenarios vying to become bargaining chips.

    There is only so much we can ask of the serious people you know.

    Our drone strikes have killed 10 times as many children as Lanza did. Where is the outpouring of angst and outrage for all those “other” children and their families? How many children would Adam Lanza have had to kill to get a Nobel Peace Prize too?

  7. jo6pac says:

    Just another photo op for the wh and give joe something to do that will die away shortly. The in the Mean time the elderly and Main Street get thrown under the bus once again by the elite owned puppets in congress.

    Nothing to see here please move a long.

    Thanks EW great term for the nra.

  8. P J Evans says:

    just what we need, another task force to study the issue for several months and then disappear from everyone’s radar.
    Which is exactly why it’s being done.

  9. lefty665 says:

    @P J Evans: And in the meantime we’re all supposed to be grateful and swallow cuts in SS and more tax breaks for the fat cats.

    Was it really just a coincidence O’s offer came after the firestorm over Sandy Hook?

  10. bsbafflesbrains says:

    I’m pretty sure everyone who wants one has an assault rifle by now (almost 4 million already purchased in U.S.) so let us move forward with a ban but like Nancy Lanza’s we will grandfather in all the current owners as legal. Now I feel safe.

  11. pdaly says:

    PBS interviewed “Newtown United” –a group of community citizens who could hold their own against the NRA.

    Maybe David Gregory could invite them on the same show. They won’t sit still quietly accepting NRA propaganda. The group wants to turn this tragedy into a defining moment to do something positive, to prevent further death by gun violence.

    Nancy Lanza’s neighbor Po Murray has a great quote criticizing the call for ‘guns to fight guns’. And the group is not necessarily anti-gun, just anti high powered weapons.

  12. Eureka Springs says:

    When the so-called left relies on war criminals like O’Biden to committee/legislate our society into a less violent one (HA!)… with certain loss of liberty as the same old answer to security… F**k it, I’ll take the NRA. Hell, listening to the left on this subject always brings me to the brink of joining the NRA. If this committee or any other gets serious about restricting gun rights, I will join.

    I don’t want a well regulated militia… I prefer the default fact we have an anarchist militia… in other words citizens may own guns without military service being a requirement. That said, training in gun use and safety should be established and in my southern state the game and fish commission requires it before purchasing ones first hunting permit. That could and should easily be expanded to all gun ownership. But there should be no or what most would consider very young age limit or myriad other regulations.

    When this government quits selling and delivering weapons and waging wanton destruction all around the world, which could easily turn upon it’s own people. When at least one major American party is not utterly overflowing with mad men / war criminals… then get back to me about my insistence citizens should have whatever guns they want at hand if they so chose. I’m in no mood to let neo nut Biden tell me to regulate or document so much as one bullet. And many well intentioned liberals should seriously think through their eagerness to disarm the people. When O’Biden and their ilk are in the Hague.. and at least one major party would never ever nominate such madness I might begin to think this country is interested in being less violent.

    Ending drug wars and establishing health care as a human right would go a long way in terms of nonviolent signals as well.

  13. emptywheel says:

    Larry Alan Burns, the judge in the Loughner case (as well as Duke Cunningham; in which role he denied Duke’s request to have his guns back), had a great op-ed in the LAT.

    So what’s the alternative? Bring back the assault weapons ban, and bring it back with some teeth this time. Ban the manufacture, importation, sale, transfer and possession of both assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Don’t let people who already have them keep them. Don’t let ones that have already been manufactured stay on the market. I don’t care whether it’s called gun control or a gun ban. I’m for it.

    I say all of this as a gun owner. I say it as a conservative who was appointed to the federal bench by a Republican president. I say it as someone who prefers Fox News to MSNBC, and National Review Online to the Daily Kos. I say it as someone who thinks the Supreme Court got it right in District of Columbia vs. Heller, when it held that the 2nd Amendment gives us the right to possess guns for self-defense. (That’s why I have mine.) I say it as someone who, generally speaking, is not a big fan of the regulatory state.

    I even say it as someone whose feelings about the NRA mirror the left’s feelings about Planned Parenthood: It has a useful advocacy function in our deliberative democracy, and much of what it does should not be controversial at all.

    And I say it, finally, mindful of the arguments on the other side, at least as I understand them: that a high-capacity magazine is not that different from multiple smaller-capacity magazines; and that if we ban assault weapons and high-capacity magazines one day, there’s a danger we would ban guns altogether the next, and your life might depend on you having one.

    But if we can’t find a way to draw sensible lines with guns that balance individual rights and the public interest, we may as well call the American experiment in democracy a failure.

    There is just no reason civilians need to own assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. Gun enthusiasts can still have their venison chili, shoot for sport and competition, and make a home invader flee for his life without pretending they are a part of the SEAL team that took out Osama bin Laden.

  14. lefty665 says:

    “Monday was the three-year anniversary of President Obama’s cruise missile and cluster-bomb attack on al-Majala in Southern Yemen that ended the lives of 14 women and 21 children: one more child than was killed by the Newtown gunman.”http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/19/newtown-drones-children-deaths/print

    Our founders gave us the 2nd Amendment in large part due to fear of standing armies. Today the NDAA allows citizens to be “disappeared”.

    Tom Lehrer observed that giving Henry Kissinger the Nobel Peace Prize made political satire obsolete. Little did he know the madness was just starting. 911 was a precipitating event, and the sickness has worsened year by year since.

    At the Trinity test Robert Oppenheimer said “I am become death”. That was his personal comment as “father” of the atomic bomb. Maybe today it applies to all of us. Our country has gone as crazy as Adam Lanza. Perhaps he is a mirror to help us see what we have become.

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