President Obama hit the road Monday on a nationwide gun-grabbing tour. His show doesn't have many fans inside the Beltway, since being seen favoring gun control can be the kiss of death for senators with rural constituencies. So Mr. Obama is trying to shore up fence-sitting members by bringing his community organizing skills to their districts.
His first stop was Minnesota. "I need everybody who's listening to keep the pressure on your member of Congress to do the right thing," said Mr. Obama, surrounded by uniformed officers at the Minneapolis Police Department Special Operations Center.
"Ask them if they support common-sense reforms like requiring universal background checks or restoring the ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines." Mr. Obama added, "Tell them now is the time for action, that we're not going to wait until the next Newtown or the next Aurora."
An extensive 2002 study by the Centers for Disease Control examined firearms laws from all across the country and concluded none were effective in thwarting violent criminals. Such facts can't always stand up to the effect an all-out White House campaign can have on public opinion. A Pew Research Center Poll released Thursday shows that support for the "assault weapons" ban reached 55 percent. Two years ago, a Gallup poll put support for the ban at only 43 percent.
Liberal governors are harnessing the public's fears and sense of helplessness over rare mass shootings to rush through new gun control laws. Since New York hastily enacted a radical law earlier this month, five others states -- New Jersey, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Delaware and Maryland -- have tried to fast-track their own onerous restrictions before memories of the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School begin to fade.
On Wednesday, Mr. Obama will be in Annapolis to address the Maryland Democratic Senate Caucus retreat on the same day that the state Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee holds a hearing on expanding existing gun restrictions.
Democratic Gov. Martin O'Malley is pushing the General Assembly to reduce the arbitrary magazine capacity limit from 20 to 10 rounds and prohibit all "assault weapons" Current owners would have to register their guns with the state police by November. The Maryland proposal would also require a license to rent or buy a handgun.
Those applying for such a license would have to take an eight-hour gun class, much like the course that was recently abandoned in the District after Metropolitan Police Department Chief Cathy L. Lanier testified it was unnecessary.
Mr. O'Malley would exempt shotguns and "hunting rifles" from the licensing requirement, even though some permissible firearms can fire more powerful rounds than the vilified AR-15 style "black rifles" he wants completely outlawed.
The gun-rights group Maryland Shall Issue is arranging pro-gun testimony and a rally outside the capitol in protest. "O'Malley's bill does nothing to reduce crime -- it would ban firearms that the FBI says are not even used in violent crimes in Maryland," said Patrick Shomo, the organization's president.
Like a nervous rock star, Mr. Obama is trying to find a new audience for songs that are no longer popular. Once the lights go down, the public will realize they're hearing the same old tunes.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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