Chris Wallace, the boss would like to see you now.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klzZxOat3mc]

Every once in awhile, someone on FOX News starts feeling a little dangerous and decides to actually do the news, just to see what it feels like to be a real reporter:

In an unexpectedly lively exchange on Fox News Sunday this morning, host Chris Wallace took on NRA head Wayne LaPierre for his group’s tasteless ad calling Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for having Secret Service protection for his daughters while opposing the placement of armed guards in every American school. “It wasn’t picking on the president’s kids,” LaPierre argued, somewhat futilely. “The president’s kids are safe and we’re all thankful for it.” When Wallace pointed out that “[Malia and Sasha] also face a threat that most people do not face,” LaPierre shot back: “Tell that to the people in Newtown!” But Wallace wasn’t buying the indignation. “Do you really think that the President’s children are the same kind of target as every schoolchild in America?” Wallace asked LaPierre, adding, “I think that’s ridiculous, and you know it, sir.”

Obama hearts guns

From New York Magazine:

Ever since President Obama awkwardly insisted to The New Republic last weekend that, “Yes, in fact, up at Camp David, we do skeet shooting all the time,” media fact-checkers (including our own DI Dan) combed through every bit of White House photographic evidence for even a single snapshot of the president in the gun-toting act. Sensing that the ensuing SkeeterGate was getting out of hand, White House officials released the above photo to theofficial White House Flickr stream this morning. “For all the ‘skeeters’,” tweeted White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer, “POTUS shoots clay targets on the range at Camp David on Aug. 4, 2012.” Yet we can already predict the obligatory conspiracy theory backlash, noting that there’s not a clay pigeon in sight. Apparently we’re not the only ones thinking this. As newly-departed White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe tweeted soon after: “Attn skeet birthers. Make our day – let the photoshop conspiracies begin!”

Perhaps this is actually a brilliant strategy: depicting Obama shooting a gun is probably the only way to get Republicans to start banning them.

When the NRA was pro-gun control

Victoria Kwan alerted me to this piece in The Root by Edward Wyckoff Williams:

It is ironic that the modern-day argument for citizens to arm themselves against unwarranted government oppression — dominated, as it is, by angry white men — has its roots in the foundation of the 1960s Black Panther movement. Huey Newton and Bobby Seale became inspired by Malcolm X’s admonishment that because government was “either unable or unwilling to protect the lives and property” of African Americans, they ought to defend themselves “by any means necessary.”

…The Panthers responded to racial violence by patrolling black neighborhoods brandishing guns — in an effort to police the police. The fear of black people with firearms sent shockwaves across white communities, and conservative lawmakers immediately responded with gun-control legislation.

…As MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry brilliantly described in a recent segment, the Black Panthers may not have been what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they described “a well-regulated militia” taking up arms against the tyranny of the state, but that is exactly what they represented.

The enduring impotence of the Democratic Party

As seen through the microcosm of Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia:

Take Senator Joe “Dead Aim” Manchin of West Virginia. After the shooting in Newtown, the conservative Democrat, who has an “A” grade from the NRA and literally shot a bill with a rifle in a campaign ad, said he would support the assault weapons ban.

A month later, not so much. The New York Times checks in with Manchin today, as he sat down with his constituents in West Virginia, some of whom picketed his office after he announced he would consider such a bill. “A guy can walk through this door right here with your Beretta five-shot automatic, and cut the barrel off at 16 inches, and put five double-ought buckshots in there and kill everybody in here in a matter of seconds,” one voter explained. “And you don’t have to aim it.”

Another offered, “I can take my A.R., load it, put one in the chamber and throw it up on this table, and the only way it’s going to hurt anybody is if I miss and hit someone in the head. The gun doesn’t hurt anybody. It’s the person pulling the trigger.”

That’s pretty much all Manchin needed to hear: “I’m not there,” he told theTimes about the ban. “I’m definitely more inclined to be very supportive of background checks.” And he’s not even up for reelection in 2014, like Democrats in Montana, Alaska, and Colorado, all of whom initially expressed openness to the ban and have since ran it back.

The Democratic Party: never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity.

Concern, misallocated

Kevin Drum examines the difference between civil liberties protection in relation to guns and terrorism:

The federal government can swoop up enormous databases, keep them for years, and data mine them to its heart’s content if it has even the slightest suspicion of terrorist activity. Objections? None to speak of, despite the fact that terrorism claims only a handful of American lives per year. But information related to guns? That couldn’t be more different. Background checks are destroyed within 24 hours, serial numbers of firearms aren’t kept in a central database at all, and gun dealers can barely even be monitored. All this despite the fact that we record more than 10,000 gun-related homicides every year.

Compare and contrast.

Did the NRA just jump the shark?

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r02rh34CXmI]

I’d like to think it did, but my instincts tell me almost nothing is strong enough to break the spell that’s been cast on gun rights advocates in this country. Transcript below:

Meanwhile, a shooting in central Pennsylvania this morning has left four dead and three injured.

Light at the end of the long, dark tunnel?

[tweet http://twitter.com/JonathanJewel/status/281451508585885696] [tweet http://twitter.com/TheObamaDiary/status/281460641825435649]

Today, President Obama announced his intention to put a plan for gun control before Congress by the end of January:

The president’s pledge came as House Republicans restated their firm opposition to enacting any new limits on firearms or ammunition, setting up the possibility of a philosophical clash over the Second Amendment early in Mr. Obama’s second term.

“This time, the words need to lead to action,” Mr. Obama said, referring to to past mass shootings that prompted outrage but led to little or no legislative changes.

He said the proposals would not be just about weapons. “We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to guns,” he said.

At an appearance in the White House briefing room, the president said he had directed Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to lead an interagency effort to develop in the next several weeks what the White House says will be a multifaceted approach to preventing similar mass shootings and the many other gun deaths that occur each year.

Mr. Obama, flanked by Mr. Biden, did not offer any specifics about the proposals. But he promised to confront the longstanding opposition in Congress that has previously blocked broad gun control measures.

“I will use all the powers of this office to help advance efforts aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” Mr. Obama said. “It won’t be easy, but that can’t be an excuse not to try.”

The White House press corps responded by…asking about the fiscal cliff:

“We are going to need to work on making access to mental health care as easy as access to a gun,” Mr. Obama said. “We’re going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence.”

His words, following five days of extensive news coverage and national debate, were intensely focused on gun violence. He addressed no other topics. Yet judging by the questions that followed his address, most of the members of the Washington press corps had other things on their minds.

“I’d like to ask you about the other serious issue consuming this town right now, the fiscal cliff,” was the first question, from The Associated Press’s correspondent, Ben Feller.

Mr. Obama answered. Then came the next question, again about the so-called “fiscal cliff”: “What is your next move?” Then: “You mentioned the $700,000, $800,000 — are you willing to move on income level?” And so on, for at least 15 minutes, before a question about gun violence was finally asked, by David Jackson of USA Today.

The American attention span for a gun control debate? Quite low, in fact

Danny Hayes offers a sober assessment of the probability that gun control will stay in the news for long after the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre:

This phenomenon – the media’s intense interest in, and subsequent boredom with, a public policy problem – is known as the “issue-attention cycle.” A dramatic event, such as a shooting, brings an issue to the media’s attention, prompts an avalanche of news, and then an inevitable decline in coverage. Coverage of natural disasters is a particularly good example. Unless new events continue to draw journalists’ attention, they move on to other, fresher stories. The public then turns its concerns elsewhere, too.

But might this time be different? Perhaps. After all, the slaughter of innocent schoolchildren has no doubt gripped the media and public in a way that even the attempted murder of a member of Congress didn’t.

In time, however, the images of Sandy Hook will fade. And if gun control remains in the headlines a month from now, it will likely be only because Obama and the Democrats have taken up the political fight.