MS. IFILL: If it seems like we’ve been here before, it’s because we have. But this time, fatalities included 20 elementary school age children and seven additional adults, including the shooter. Shocking violence, innocent victims, expressions of outrage, and, from the president today, a promise to act.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: (From tape.) As a country, we have been through this too many times, whether it’s an elementary school in Newtown, or a shopping mall in Oregon, or a temple in Wisconsin, or a movie theater in Aurora or a street corner in Chicago. These neighborhoods are our neighborhoods and these children are our children. And we’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.
MS. IFILL: But what if anything can or will government do about it? The Newtown shootings provide more fodder for a debate that, interestingly enough, we didn’t even have in the 2012 presidential election. Any sign so that anything is going to be different, Reid?
REID WILSON: Well, I think there are. I think the signs were those two words that President Obama used, “meaningful action.”
We haven’t heard him talk about actually doing something about gun violence, about gun control in his first four years. Instead, we heard a lot of discussion about the Second Amendment and respect for the sort of existing laws on the book, enforcing the existing laws on the book.
The only time we ever heard about gun control during the presidential campaign was when he was asked during the town hall debate on Long Island. And he started out sort of discussing what he would do to ban assault weapons by talking about how important the Second Amendment was.
MS. IFILL: Right.
MR. WILSON: This now has changed. He’s never running for reelection again. He doesn’t have to sort of face the political power of the gun lobby.
MS. IFILL: But he said take meaningful action regardless of the politics. The politics have not changed.
MR. WILSON: And it’s an acknowledgement that still gun politics are something of a third rail in the discussion right now. I think it’s fascinating, though, to take a look at – for the first time, there’s actually money going behind some of the pro-gun control candidates.
JOHN DICKERSON: Reid, isn’t the problem, though, on this issue do people who want to protect gun rights are the ones who really vote on the issue, and that’s always been the problem because they’re energized. The ones who want to restrict gun rights or have gun control laws are not as motivated?
MR. WILSON: Exactly. Democrats remember just how bad the NRA was for them back in 1994. After the assault weapons ban passed, the NRA went after a number of rural Democrats, Democrats in areas that weren’t inside the city, and effectively beat a number of them. There were a lot of Democrats who still blame the NRA for losing control of the House in ’94.