The Cycle | July 24, 2012
>>> one of the reasons we ought to pass the crime bill is that senator feinstein's amendment to limit assault weapons would make those 15 round clips illegal. they are not necessary for hunting or sports purposes. and it's simply allows you to shoot and wound more people more quickly. i hope that this will give more impetus to the need to act urgently.
>> that was president clinton in 1993 one day after the long island railroad massacre calling for stronger action on guns. 20 years later, it's incredible how much has changed. back in 1993 , 70% of americans believed our gun laws needed to be more strict, only 28% said they needed to be maintained or lessened. now it's almost the complete reverse. majority, 55% feel gun laws should be less strict for kept the same. those who want stronger laws, 43%. two decades ago democrats running on gun control . today they're hiding from it. so, we don't really want to have a conversation about gun control here but we want to have a conversation about the conversation about gun control , how dramatically it's changed in the last two decades. there are a lot of different directs we go here. one place to start is this, we can acknowledge 12 years ago after 2000 election, gore defe dee feeted by bush. there was a change, a guy like bill clinton who we saw arguing for gun control to democrats saying we think emphasizing gun control hurt us with blue collar , white voters, places like missouri, west virginia .
>> virginia .
>> you know, virginia . cost al gore the election. they really have from a policy standpoint, from a rhetorical standpoint laid off of gun control for last decade. in the same time the intensity of the opposition of opposition to gun control especially among those voters has really kind of gone through the roof. and it's reached a point where barack obama is so afraid of alienating voter his won't say anything in the wake of the tragedy in colorado. i want to start maybe with you s.e. and can you explain that to me? as a conservative, somebody who opposes gun control , nothing's happened from the democratic stan point in 12 years but yes it's ferocious as ever in the opposition.
>> for the past 10, 15 years as conservatives and gun advocates, started to see some pushback they dug in their heels and this culture around the second amendment was created and the second amendment went from one issue issue to an issue that was imbued with all of this meaning. it suddenly had class implications, cultural meaning, almost religious significance. we all look back at obama's quote in 2008 about middle america clinging to guns and religion that was a condescending thing to say but the intink to marry the two issues was right on. i mean, there is an almost manifest destiny since around second amendment issues for conservatives. and conservatives and republicans, i think, now use it as he litmus test , sort of a representation, do you get me? my dad's a perfect example. he's a staunch republican, does not own a gun, doesn't care about guns but cares if you support the second amendment because it's a reflection of whether or not you get him.
>> that has changed. that is the result of the past ten years.
>> interesting, it's a cultural signifier. i want to give you a rorschach test here. a picture from 2004 campaign, when democrats decided we're going to try to get the blue collar voters, we're going to try to show them we understand them, john kerry going hunting in the swing state of ohio a week before the election and there he was with a dead goose and this was supposed to tell you maybe not you, but sort of the blue collar , white voter i'm not going after your guns, i am part of your lifestyle but what do you see culturally when you see a picture like that?
>> a lipstick on the pig. that's not going to convince me, john kerry , new england elitist liberal put any signifier on him you want, he's not someone who gets me. right or wrong, that is i think what most conservatives saw when they saw him.
>> that raises the question, too, of if conservatives are going to see what s.e. described when they look at a democrat, even when a democrat is making efforts to appeal to gun owners and those who oppose gun control , krystal it raises the question for democrats you spent the last 12 years you're not a gun control party but still thinking you're the gun control party, why not be the gun control part.
>> though you may have in the democratic coalition certainly if you polled democrats they would say they're in support of gun control broadly. it's not the animating issue on left as it is on the rooeft right. it's not for most democrats it's not their number one issue. a lot of democrats will tell you confidentially it's not something they're really concerned about it's not noumber one for them. as someone who ran for congress in virginia i can tell you the political calculus in virginia is still very much in a rural area, you need to be right on gun rights because i think s.e.'s absolutely right, it's a signaling issue. it's not just about guns. it's a do you get us? are you from here? do you get us? are you standing up for us or are you a john kerry , al gore , nancy pelosi , stereotypical sort of liberal elite who doesn't get where we're coming from? i think we're coming from. that's one interesting thing with the bill clinton clip you showed. bill clinton is a southern arkansas democrat with a southern accent . and in some ways that gives him more room to maneuver on gun control because he already passes the threshold of, okay, here is a guy more or less like us. has he more room to maneuver than, say, a barack obama .
>> the other thing you make me think about my dad, longtime democrat, gun owner but doesn't become a litmus test with him like do you get me. we don't have a litmus test , we can't have a substantive debate when everybody is sensitive. it's fallen over the last years. the average voters feels less of the fear that would motivate lawmakers to do something. these spectacular mass killing are way up from when our dads were kids. i think there was something like 11 in the '50s and '60s and over 550 in the last century, a decade ago. those things sort of make us think about these things. we understand those are outlier crimes, somebody going to shoot up the mall or the school. i would hope it would be a trayvon martin situation that would make people think, wow, wrongful death, illegal gun owner, how do we move forward from this situation. so much of this issue is let's make sure law abiding white people have access to guns and black criminals do not. we don't want to talk about that sort of racial, black bottom of it all but that's definitely part of it.
>> it's interesting to me how certain events make this debate evolve over crime and guns. can you go back decades, gangland stuff, al capone would get people scared about crime, then street crime . maybe this stuff reaches a critical mass ,