Despite all the hoopla surrounding Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) bid to ban 158 named “assault weapons” and prevent the manufacture of new ones, the real threat to our rights is coming from more moderate proposals from people like Senator Patick Leahy (D-VT), who has been lukewarm on the idea of a resurrected “assault weapons” ban, noting the stiff resistance any such legislation would face in the House and even the Democratically controlled Senate.
Leahy, who is a senior senator from a relatively pro-gun state, recognizes that the best way to advance the President’s agenda is to seek some less controversial measures that our beleaguered Republican friends in Congress will feel unable to refuse, both for want of backbone and the perception that the “winners” of November should be accommodated whenever possible.
None of this is to say that activists should let down their guard. On the contrary, the chief reason why Feinstein’s draconian bill to make us like other “civilized,” disarmed populations in the world is likely to fail that we have kept up the pressure on our representatives. Nevertheless, it is important to keep in mind what the real game and objective is here.
Those Dems still living in the real world are willing to settle for something less than a dramatic gun ban, for now at least. It is certainly possible that the Feinstein bill was always intended to serve primarily as the opening gambit in a negotiating ploy to make lesser measures seem more palatable down the road. You don’t have to be a master diplomat to see that it makes sense in any negotiation to stake out a hard line position early to give yourself some room to move later.
For her part, Feinstein, along with Schumer and a few others, is likely very sincere in her desire to see a comprehensive assault weapons ban, but that old bird wasn’t born yesterday. She and her colleagues know how Washington works. In any event, whether the Feinstein bill was ever intended to be law or not is irrelevant at this point. What matters is that it has been a blessing and a curse for the Dems.
On the plus side (from their perspective) the bill has shocked the pro-gun community with its boldness, which may make it easier for the Dems to force pro-gun politicians to swallow a bitter pill, such as a ban on the manufacture of 10+ round magazines, and think they are tasting honey instead of vinegar. On the negative side (also from the bad guys perspective) the Feinstein bill has stirred up the hornets. Pro-gun forces are on the march and we are ready for a fight.
In the end, recognizing the game they are playing may help us prevent well-meaning GOP politicians from folding when they still have cards to play.