Joe Scarborough went "ballistic" against Republicans for voting down the Manchin-Toomey expanded background checks amendment in the US Senate yesterday and as a result he claims the party is on the verge of extinction.
The GOP has problems, to be sure, but it's position on gun control is probably not one of them.
The self-important Scarborough and his Morning Joe panelists also blasted those Democrats who voted against cloture on the bill, but in keeping with the MSNBC corporate culture, Joe spent most of the segment this morning slamming his fellow Republicans.
Joe said, in part: "Mark it down, this is going to be a turning point in the history of the Republican Party as well … This party that killed this background check yesterday -- this party is moving toward extinction. A new Republican Party is going to replace it. And this is going to be a vote that people will look back on and say, 'That party, that extremism, that was unsustainable.'"
Scarborough claimed that 90 percent of the American people supported Manchin-Toomey or the equivalent; President Obama alluded to the same statistic -- which is apparently based on some random poll --in his post-vote remarks. But Joe is wrong on that too, or at least that is quite an extravagant claim (unless the 90 percent applies to MSNBC employees, in which case it is surprising that it isn't 100 percent).
While most Americans likely support expanding existing background checking procedures generally or in the abstract, many have misgivings about how it would be implemented in practice. Moreover, "90 percent" of the American people are for better or worse probably more concerned with Dancing With the Stars or Justin Bieber than any political machinations in Washington.
According to new Gallup Poll, only four percent (not 90) of Americans consider guns/gun control as an important problem in America. An AP poll found that only 49 percent favored stricter gun controls and that 52 percent disfavor President Barack Obama's approach to additional lawmaking.
The Rasmussen poll explored voter attitudes toward gun control further:
" [P]ublic opinion is more complicated than gun control advocates want to acknowledge, and there is real political risk in voting for the proposed legislation.
"Expanding background checks for would-be gun owners is a commonsense proposal much like requiring a photo ID before someone is allowed to vote. Both have overwhelming support. But while people think requiring more background checks makes sense, most don't think it will make much of a difference. Only 41% believe more background checks will reduce gun violence.
"Second, people want to make sure the checks are limited to only restricting convicted felons and those with serious mental health issues. Only 30% want broader background checks. Third, just 40% want to see a national database of gun owners created. This last point really frustrates some advocates of gun control, including President Obama... If people trusted the government, there would be no reason to be concerned about background checks, but only one-in-five voters believe the government currently has the consent of the governed."
Joe's contention that criminals, gang members, and terrorists would be deterred in any way by expanded background checks is optimistic in the extreme (if the word "extreme" can be used in this context). Joe clearly hasn't been watching any crime or caper movies produced in Hollywood or in Europe or Asia where the bad guys and the good guys/anti-heroes often encounter very little difficulty obtaining black-market weaponry.
Much more seriously, it is also universally acknowledged that Manchin-Toomey or any of the Obama administration proposals would not have prevented the horrible crimes that occurred in Aurora, Colorado, or at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. For the most part, gun control regulations zero in on law-abiding citizens rather than the wrongdoers.
That being said, what Scarborough, his fellow MSNBC panelists, Obama/Biden, and others who seek to politicize public safety apparently don't seem to process is this: Someone can still be a non-gun owner or never even have touched or held a gun (and want nothing to do with a gun perhaps or any gun-rights group) to nonetheless champion the Second Amendment.
Moreover, you can just be an ordinary gun-owning or non-gun-owning citizen -- rather than a conspiracy theorist wearing a camouflage vest who allegedly get his or her marching orders from the NRA -- and support the Bill of Rights and the notion of preserving individual freedom against excessive government encroachment.
Similarly, you can be pro-choice on abortion and still feel that the Roe v. Wade decision was wrongly decided by the Supreme Court.
Moreover, while Manchin-Toomey theoretically ruled out any national gun registry (which opponents feared could eventually lead to gun confiscation), that's not entirely the whole story from a common-sense standpoint. Government, to put it charitably, often changes its mind or makes mistakes. Accepting government promises at face value... that speaks for itself. Taking it one step further, this president has a tendency to issue executive orders that circumvent Congress, and his successors in office might be tempted to do the same.
With regard to those potential changed circumstances, Wall Street Journal writer James Taranto pragmatically explained that "This columnist, for example, would not oppose 'universal background checks,' given sufficient privacy protections, if we were sure that advocates would stop there rather than push for more draconian gun controls. Since we are quite certain they will not, we were delighted to see the legislation fail."
University of Denver Law Professor David Kopel argues among other things that in Manchin-Toomey "The provision which claims to outlaw national gun registration in fact authorizes a national gun registry... The limit on creating a registry applies only to the Attorney General (and thus to entities under his direct control, such as the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives). By a straightforward application of inclusio unius exclusio alterius it is permissible for entities other than the Attorney General to create gun registries, using whatever information they can acquire from their own operations. " The Latin term means "the inclusion of one is the exclusion of another."
Kopel also claims that the ATF can compile a national gun registry from the records of gun stores that have gone out of business. He adds that it would be highly unrealistic to expect that the Justice Department would sue itself for violating Manchin-Toomey.
Mediaite's Noah Rothman observed that demonizing the NRA was essentially irrelevant to the defeat of the Manchin-Toomey in the US Senate: "Further, gun control backers refused to reconcile a discrepancy in public polling which showed some proposed new gun laws to be wildly popular in the same way that the fundamental right to own a firearm remains wildly popular... It was most certainly not because of the NRA's actions after Newtown, but rather the popularity of the right they see it as their mission to protect -- a right enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. By dismissing this, the nation's gun control advocates were probably doomed from the start. They never framed their argument in terms of freedom, and a message of liberty almost always carries the day."
Watch a portion of Joe Scarborough's gun control rant on MSNBC's Morning Joe: