Turning The Guns On Mary

An interesting excerpt from National Review on how the coming gun-control fight could end up becoming a major headache for Louisiana’s senior senator when she faces re-election in 2014…

Another Democrat in a tough spot is Louisiana’s Landrieu. The three-term senator could be badly hurt by voting for such prominent gun-control measures. “There’s no question that Louisiana is pro-gun,” says Kirby Goidel, a Louisiana State University professor and senior public-policy fellow of the Reilly Center for Media and Public Affairs. Landrieu, Goidel notes, won’t win the voters most concerned about gun rights no matter what. Still, she can’t afford to go too leftward on the issue.

“She might be able to vote for some of the measures,” he says. “She would have to be very selective. She would want to show her independence from President Obama, because that’s going to be the thing that people would to try to tie her to in the 2014 campaign. And so I would be surprised if she went very far in that direction in terms of supporting gun-control measures.”

Quin Hillyer, a Louisiana native who worked for Louisiana Republican congressman Robert Livingston in the Nineties, says that Landrieu must “support something” to keep “her base [and] her liberal activists enthused.” But he anticipates her supporting something along the lines of spending more on police or banning armor-piercing bullets.

“In terms of anything that actually limits any sort of gun,” Hillyer says, “if she votes for it, she’s coming close to committing political hara-kiri.”

The state GOP, however, is already looking ahead to making gun control a big issue. Joe Biden will fundraise for Landrieu later this month, and Jason Dore, executive director of the state GOP, says Republicans will highlight that Biden is “the spokesperson for gun control.”

Dore also sees potential for using gun control as an issue in 2014.

“In 2008, it wasn’t an issue. I don’t think guns in general were that much on people’s minds,” but now, in light of the new gun-control push, gun-rights activists are energized, Dore says. “I think it gives us a great opportunity and puts her in quite a difficult position.”

Part of Landrieu’s survival as the last statewide elected official of Democrat persuasion in Louisiana has been her ability to either sidestep issues like gun control is becoming, or to jump ship from her national party in order to save herself.

And the guess here is that Landrieu will manage to skate on the gun control issue as well. It would be surprising if she were to make any statements on the gun issue that would rile up the public one way or the other, and it’s also unlikely that Harry Reid will put any major gun control legislation in front of the Senate.

What will go to the floor is something minor, which the Right – and perhaps the majority of folks in Louisiana – will see as an unconstitutional affront to the 2nd Amendment, but that on the surface doesn’t sound unreasonable. And perhaps Landrieu will vote for that. There are a number of Democrats in the Senate who style themselves as pro-gun and some of them even have NRA voting records to match the rhetoric. Landrieu has a lifetime C-rating with the NRA, though; she is hardly one of those.

So magazine restrictions and the like could be on the table for Landrieu’s approval, and her strategists will hope to defuse the issue by limiting her vote to small-ball gun control measures.

That would mean the juicy, suicidal mistake the state GOP is looking for out of Landrieu in the gun control debate won’t likely materialize. But that would also mean the big media push behind Obama’s gun-grabbing agenda would come to a big, fat nothing.

And how does that strike the president’s camp? By now he’s invested in getting something sizable – and, to 2nd Amendment defenders, obnoxious – passed on gun control. If that ultimately ends up being only a bill limiting magazine clips or banning certain kinds of rounds, not only will the House likely kill it but Obama’s own people will consider it a loss that this was all he could get through the Senate.

And for all his bluster on this issue, it would seem that would be a squandering of political capital. At least in the Non-Bizarro World we used to live in.

So to some extent, Obama has to calculate whether it’s worth sacrificing Landrieu in order to try passing strict gun control laws – because if those do go to the Senate floor and she does vote for them, Hillyer and Dore are correct that she’ll be signing her political suicide note, and without her vote and the 5-6 others like it Obama’s gun control push won’t even make it out of a Democrat-controlled Senate; which is tantamount to a major pratfall in the first legislative fight of the president’s second term.

It’s an interesting question. The fact that Landrieu is being feted by the left-wing moneybags outfit Act Blue at that end-of-the-month fundraiser, with head honcho gun-grabber Joe Biden as the headliner, could very well mean they’re going to pressure her into a more anti-gun stance than she’s had to take thus far. That, of course, would be music to the ears of state GOP chair Roger Villere, Dore and whomever may end up being the top Republican challenger to Landrieu next year.

Obama’s people are largely overrated – they’re where they are because of a compliant media and an incompetent Republican establishment rather than their own brilliance – but they’re not idiots. One wonders how they’ve managed to put themselves into such a precarious situation with their all-important 2014 elections in the middle.



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