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.”

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.

Guns and the Sandy Hook shooting

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified the shooter as Ryan Lanza. In fact, it was his brother, Adam.

 

Following today’s massacre of at least 27 at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, by a man in his twenties identified as Adam Lanza of New Jersey, the Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein mounts a necessary prebuttal to the predictable responses from gun-rights advocates (includes facts/data about guns in the United States):

When we first collected much of this data, it was after the Aurora, Colo. shootings, and the air was thick with calls to avoid “politicizing” the tragedy. That is code, essentially, for “don’t talk about reforming our gun control laws.”

Let’s be clear: That is a form of politicization. When political actors construct a political argument that threatens political consequences if other political actors pursue a certain political outcome, that is, almost by definition, a politicization of the issue. It’s just a form of politicization favoring those who prefer the status quo to stricter gun control laws.

Since then, there have been more horrible, high-profile shootings. Jovan Belcher, a linebacker for the Kansas City Chiefs, took his girlfriend’s life and then his own. In Oregon, Jacob Tyler Roberts entered a mall holding a semi-automatic rifle and yelling “I am the shooter.” And, in Connecticut, at least 27 are dead — including 18 children — after a man opened fire at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

If roads were collapsing all across the United States, killing dozens of drivers, we would surely see that as a moment to talk about what we could do to keep roads from collapsing. If terrorists were detonating bombs in port after port, you can be sure Congress would be working to upgrade the nation’s security measures. If a plague was ripping through communities, public-health officials would be working feverishly to contain it.

Only with gun violence do we respond to repeated tragedies by saying that mourning is acceptable but discussing how to prevent more tragedies is not. But that’s unacceptable.

For another useful resource on gun violence with recent data and statistics, see Mother Jones‘ “Guide to Mass Shootings in America.”

Meanwhile, for today’s news, the New York Times is posting updates on its “Lede” blog. President Obama is expected to make a statement right now.

Who needs gun control?

Certainly not the United States. Anything but that. The dual shooting-related headlines below tell the story. We can’t even get over our last two shootings before moving on to the next one. But remember, guns are not the problem. We know this because the NRA keeps repeating it to us.

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