Gun Control Bill Is Dead

| Wed Apr. 17, 2013 9:53 AM EDT

It looks like background check legislation is dead:

The chief architects of the background check proposal, Sens. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.) and Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.), acknowledged Wednesday morning that they still don’t have the votes necessary to pass their amendment.

Signaling that his amendment could be near-dead, Manchin told NBC, “We will not get the votes today.”....In an interview Wednesday with the National Review, Toomey also said “As we sit here this morning, we don’t have the votes.”

Keep in mind that this was (a) a very watered-down proposal, and (b) included a whole slew of goodies for gun owners. And it still couldn't get 60 votes. And while its failure is obviously partly the fault of the filibuster rule, any bill that can only get about 55 votes in the Senate never had any chance in the House anyway.

How did this happen even though, as liberals remind us endlessly, 90 percent of the American public supports background checks? Because about 80 percent of those Americans think it sounds like a reasonable idea but don't really care much. I doubt that one single senator will suffer at the polls in 2014 for voting against Manchin-Toomey.

Gun control proposals poll decently all the time. But the plain truth is that there are only a small number of people who feel really strongly about it, and they mostly live in urban blue districts already. Outside of that, pro-gun control opinion is about an inch deep. This is a classic case where poll literalism leads you completely astray. Without measuring intensity of feeling, that 90 percent number is meaningless.