On Wednesday, President Obama unveiled new measures in response to the Dec. 14 gun massacre in Newtown, Conn.,, that left 20 school children and seven adults dead. The measures range from expanded background checks for gun purchases to improved access to mental health care.
On the merits, all are useful policies. But they amount to only minor changes in the law and won’t seriously restrict access to firearms. What’s sure to upset the millions of Americans who want stricter laws is that the modesty of these initiatives doesn’t nearly reflect the national outrage that followed the tragedy. Even some of the president’s more significant proposals, such as renewing the assault-weapons ban, which 58 percent of Americans favored in a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, lack the support of key members of his own party. On Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada all but dismissed the idea outright. “Is it something that can pass the Senate? Maybe,” Reid told an interviewer. “Is it something that can pass the House? I doubt it.”