Ben Cohen, Shauna Alexander, Bryce Rudow, and I met for drinks last night to celebrate my new Daily Banterdom, but it mostly turned into a platform for me to complain about just how close to death I was feeling. After, like, a year of never being sick, my first week back was being ruined by some weird, soul-sapping illness that convinced me I ought to skip today’s White House briefing, and stay in bed. Halfway through the evening, though, I saw tweets about the shooting at Ft. Hood, and knew that this would be the dominant topic at the next briefing, one I would not want to miss.
As it turns out, not so much.
The shooting did come up a few times, but no more or less than any other topic of the day. We’ve reached a point where our gun massacres have sequels. Yesterday’s mass shooting was the second-deadliest in Ft. Hood’s history, but also only ranks third in the history of Killeen, Texas. Early on, the media focus has been on our treatment of military veterans, which is a good thing, and which has a hell of a better chance of being acted upon than anything having to do with guns. The gun part just is what it is.
Nothing about that is going to change in at least the next few years, probably longer. Let’s say, by some miracle, the Democrats take majorities in both houses of Congress, and the White House in 2016. Are they really going to spend that capital on gun control, and risk all those gains?
At today’s briefing, I asked Jay Carney what the White House’s message is to people who are demoralized by that fact. Carney, in a bit of characteristic understatement, said that there is “reason to be frustrated” by Congress’ inability to pass even the most meager, broadly-supported gun laws, but that that “doesn’t mean you give up on efforts that remain possible.”
Executive actions and state or local laws are, it seems, all that “remains possible” when it comes to gun control, but trying to fight gun violence without strong federal laws is like trying to ban water from the middle of a bathtub.
As Carney said, not enough is known about this particular shooting to judge what, if any, changes might have helped, but that only matters to the extent that if the answer has anything to do with gun laws, it will not be done. It is absurd that our mass murderers are now three-peating themselves, and we can’t do anything about guns. The Chevy Cobalt was finally recalled after 13 deaths over 11 years. For guns, we call that Christmas morning.