Gun Control Debate 2013: Obama Isn't A Persuader


For now, the push for Obama’s gun control agenda ended on April 17.  Every measure in the bill, which wouldn't have stopped the Newtown tragedy, was voted down with Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s amendment on assault weapons garnering a meager forty votes. With the president unable to convince the nation to back his proposals for more restrictions on our Second Amendment rights, can we safely say that his rhetorical skills are overrated? Let's look at his track record concerning the use of his speech.

Back in 2011, George Will aptly noted the lack of persuasiveness the president’s power of speech. The more the president talked about his health care reforms, the more they suffered in the opinion polls. Obama campaigned against Chris Christie in 2009. He's now governor. During the same period, he tried to stop Bob McDonnell's gubernatorial ambitions in Virginia. He was elected governor. He tried to stop Scott Brown from filling the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat in Massachusetts. Brown was elected in the special election. He went out to support congressional Democrats in 2010. His party ended up suffering a "shellacking," with Democratic losses almost rivaling that of the 1938 midterms. Lastly, Obama went to Copenhagen at the outset of his presidency to lobby Chicago as the next venue for the 2016 Olympics. In the first round, the International Olympic Committee rejected Chicago.

Recently, Will mentioned that President Obama has spent the most critical moments of his second term pressing gun control ... and lost. With the Newtown tragedy, it touched the hearts and minds of every mother, father, and grandparent in the country.  20 schoolchildren had died. How could the president not be successful in pushing for more gun control? Obama told members of Congress to give the victims of gun violence and their families a vote on these new anti-gun measures during his State of the Union address last February. Evidently, that wasn't compelling enough.  It additionally seems that the president didn't take into account the ramifications this would have for red state Democrats that are up for re-election in 2014.

As the president took to the podium in the Rose Garden after the bill's defeat last Wednesday, he said that the "effort is not over." And "this is just round one." According to Gallup, Americans have the economy and jobs listed as the most important issue for government to tackle. Only 4% of Americans feel that gun control is an important issue. Similar to health care, President Obama got behind gun control, and its support suffered in the polls. With guns, it's no different. Support for stricter gun laws dropped from 57% in December to 47% last March.