Nothing adds pizazz to a tired policy issue in Washington like flying in celebrities for a news conference. Gun-control advocates have been losing legislative steam since the Newtown, Conn., tragedy, so they called on the glitterati to brighten their case before the Capitol hallways on Wednesday. The effort did more harm than good.
New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns invited six actors and two children of political leaders killed by guns to the gabfest.
Tony Bennett came up with a rather extreme comparison. "It's the kind of turn that happened to the great country of Germany," said the crooner. "When the Nazis came over, they did tragic things. And they had to be told off. And if we continue this kind of violence accepted in our country, the rest of the world is going to really take care of us in a very bad way."
Actor and comedian Chris Rock never mentioned firearms in his 30-second speech. "I'm here to support the president of the United States. The president and the first lady are kinda the mom and dad of the country, and when your dad says something, you listen." He then walked out of the room.
Actress Amanda Peet introduced her "hero," Dr. Michael Nance of the Children's Hospital in Philadelphia, who cited "the ability to fire rapidly" as one reason that so-called "assault weapons" should be banned.
Kerry Kennedy held up a photo of her father, Robert F. Kennedy, and referenced his assassination and that of her uncle, President John F. Kennedy, in calling for Congress to pass bans on "assault weapons" and "high-capacity" magazines. Martin Luther King III said it would be a fitting tribute for this year's 50th anniversary of his father's march on Washington to have more laws on the books to "create a culture of nonviolence."
I asked Mark Glaze, director of Mr. Bloomberg's group, why a ban would reduce gun violence now, when it failed to do so while in effect from 1994 to 2004. "We believe the assault weapons ban had some good effects," said Mr. Glaze. "Some crime was driven to other kinds of guns. And when you make particularly lethal weapons less available, you make it less easy to perpetrate mass killings."
Dr. Nance chimed in to say, "The prior assault weapons ban lacked teeth because it did not ban guns that were already in possession -- more than a million assault rifles were already out there." The legislation currently sponsored by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, wouldn't go quite as far as Dr. Nance wants, as it would grandfather existing rifles.
There's no telling what might come next, however, as Mr. Bloomberg continues to throw his personal fortune behind efforts to undermine the Second Amendment. In this case, hizzoner's money would have been better spent if his invited guests didn't make the news conference look more like a bad reality show than a live feed from C-SPAN.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.
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