In addition to the lack of discussion of the economic crisis, particularly the forgotten foreclosure crisis, one thing that struck many observers of the State of the Union address was no mention of gun safety, just a couple weeks after the Tucson shooting rampage and the assassination attempt on Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (who has thankfully been upgraded to good condition and moved to a rehab center). Despite several proposals and a national outcry over how Jared Loughner was able to legally purchase a gun despite suspicions of mental illness, and how he could fire 31 shots before reloading, using a clip that was banned under the assault weapons legislation which ran out in 2004, the President stood mute on the issue.
But David Plouffe, now a senior adviser to the President, promised last night that he would tackle the issue sometime in the future.
Plouffe said Obama’s speech on Tuesday was focused on the economy. He added that the president has been clear on his views on gun control, citing Obama’s position of reinstating the expired assault weapons ban.
“He’s going to address this,” Plouffe said. “It’s a very important issue and I know there’s going to be a lot of debate on the Hill.”
It’s not clear what legislation Obama will urge Congress to pass. Despite his support for reauthorizing the assault weapons ban, he has not made the issue a priority and has been lambasted by gun-control groups during the first two years of his presidency.
Gun control legislation faces an almost impossible climb in a Republican House. It would certainly be completely impossible without the President weighing in. But what we saw generally in the State of the Union speech, and the President’s general demeanor during his term in office, is that he doesn’t like to take a stand unless the issue is on a clear path to victory. He shied away from gun control, in this reading, because his preferences aren’t likely to pass Congress. That plays it safe, but I’m not sure it does much else. It certainly doesn’t show to the public your principles. And it creates a credibility gap between the President and those expected to support him.