At some point in the near past, the Republican Party decided that Second Amendment rights were the only rights that are absolute and untouchable -- rights that can not be regulated or restricted in any way. Ever.
It used to be that Republican saints like Ronald Reagan could support sensible gun control laws like background checks and assault weapons bans. Indeed, after being shot and, for a short period, being declared dead on television during the coverage of John Hinckley's assassination attempt, Reagan's press secretary James Brady became synonymous with reasonable gun legislation and the Brady Bill. Reagan followed later by endorsing both the Brady Bill, addressing background checks, and a separate assault rifle ban, removing certain models of semi-automatic rifles and handguns from the shelves of retailers across the country.
The assault rifle ban lapsed without renewal by George W. Bush in 2004. It's possible that the sunsetting of the law was the beginning of the end for GOP support on reasonable gun laws. However, the congressional Republicans as well as the NRA have continued to walk away from legislation that it previously supported. You might recall how the NRA's chief crackpot, Wayne LaPierre repeatedly called for an expansion of the mental health database for the background check system... until President Obama signed the "Obama rule" adding new data to the system via the Social Security Administration. The NRA and the GOP repealed the Obama rule in February, 2017, and, naturally, President Trump signed the bill.
In the wake of Alexandria, we've read a lot of contrite declarations by Republicans, including fringe lunatics like Ted Nugent, that we need to return to civil discourse after the severe wounding of House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and several others this past week. Fine. We'll take it even though it won't last. Eliminationist rhetoric is as habitual for the GOP as trolling liberals.
We're also hearing from Republicans like Rep. Lou Barletta of Pennsylvania who thinks fellow legislators should cancel further town halls, thus transparently sidestepping angry constituents demanding answers about healthcare. Convenient. Earlier, in the hours after the shooting, officials closed off Pennsylvania Avenue in from of the White House where protesters normally gather.
In other words, we can't possibly touch Second Amendment rights, but we can almost immediately restrict First Amendment rights such as free speech, free assembly and the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Of course, certain precautions are perfectly acceptable when it comes to safeguarding public safety and national security -- to an extent. This is the reasonable view on canceling town halls and closing down meeting places where protesters assemble per their constitutional liberties. Too bad the GOP isn't nearly as reasonable when it comes to the Second Amendment, which, they say, has no further exceptions available.
We know why it's this way, of course. The NRA owns Congress. Almost literally. The NRA is also helmed by thugs who freely intimidate anyone who stands in their way of selling as many deadly retail products as possible. In fact, there were more gun sales in 2016 than any other year -- ever. 24,767,514 background checks were conducted last year. A new record.
So, just in case you were wondering, there's no way in hell the GOP will backpedal on their intransigence here. There will be no new gun control bills, not even bills introduced by Steve Scalise from his hospital bed. Expect more legislation easing gun restrictions -- and more restrictions on the First Amendment and access to members of Congress. And expect many, many more shootings like Alexandria.
As with all of my prognostications in the Trump era: I hope I'm wrong.