President Obama announced his response to the Newtown massacre today:
At a White House event at noon, Mr. Obama announced plans to introduce legislation by next week that includes a ban on assault weapons, limits on high-capacity magazines, expanded background checks for gun purchases and new gun trafficking laws to crack down on the spread of weapons across the country.
This is mostly just a service post. This is the big news of the day, so it probably deserves a placeholder that gives everyone a chance to comment. I don't have much to say about it myself, though. It's about what everyone expected, and unless someone tells me how this proposal—or even the merest shadow of this proposal—passes the House, I don't see how there's any chance of action. But that may just be some lingering pessimism caused by yelling at my computer for most of the morning, so I'll wait for others to chime in before I give up on this entirely.
Obama also released a set of 23 tyranny-breeding executive orders today, including the nomination of an ATF director. Clearly, this isn't the America it used to be. You can read the full set of executive orders here.
UPDATE: OK, here's a more optimistic take. Greg Sargent argues that "for all the focus on the politics of the assault ban, comprehensive improvement of the background check system is a higher priority for gun reform advocates, and is also a more achievable one." And Robert Spitzer argues that the precedent of Columbine provides a ray of hope:
Within weeks, Congress was enmeshed in consideration of a bill requiring background checks for all sales at gun show, a bar on unlicensed Internet gun sales and tougher gun crime penalties, among other provisions. Despite open hostility from the Republican leaders who controlled Congress, they yielded to public pressure — amplified by support from then-President Clinton — and brought bills to the floor of both houses. The measure passed in the Senate, but eventually lost in the House after tumultuous consideration. Republican leaders would have preferred to let the bills die quietly in committee, but yielded in the face of public outcry.
The bill didn't actually pass, but House leaders didn't refuse to even allow a vote. Perhaps Newtown will have the same effect, and perhaps there are still a few dozen Republicans who are willing to join with most Democrats to seriously tighten up background checks. Maybe. In any case, this might not be quite as impossible as I imagine.