There won’t be much more gun control at the federal level because Democrats have learned it’s a losing issue for them, says U.S. News & World Report. Conventional wisdom is that Al Gore’s gun-control advocacy in 2000 cost him his home state of Tennessee and the presidency. “You can talk about guns, or you can talk about everything else,” says Dane Strother, a Democratic media consultant. “If you start talking about guns, everyone bridles, be it pro-gun or antigun. You’ll never make it to healthcare. You’ll never make it to the economy.” Today’s winning Democrats resemble Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, a gun-owning former marine whose senior aide was arrested for accidentally carrying Webb’s gun into a Senate office building. This year, neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama has talked much about gun control.
The only significant recent federal gun control legislation, which increased funding for mental health background checks, was passed in December in the wake of the Virginia Tech massacre. In the states, the debate over gun control is as robust as ever. In a number of major cities, rising crime rates have pushed the issue to the front of the public agenda. Gun control advocates, led by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, push for laws that would help target illegal gun trafficking: allowing states access to gun-trace data, requiring background checks at gun shows, and forcing gun owners to report lost or stolen weapons. In Washington, D.C., whose handgun ban is being reviewed by the Supreme Court, it’s hard to see how the ban has made much impact on crime. Last year, homicides–80 percent of which are caused by firearms–were up 7 percent from the year before, to 181. That makes D.C.’s one of the highest per capita murder rates in the country. If the ban is struck down, Washington will very likely see an increase in firearms ownership and perhaps a rise in burglaries by criminals trying to obtain guns.