Sandy Hook School Shooting

The No Labels, Bipartisan Approach to Government Gun Control: Vague, But Comprehensive!

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Make it stop!

No Labels, the two-year-old bipartisan coalition of patriotic pragmatists who just want to "Make America Work!" (nope, nothing creepy about that formulation…), came back with a big re-boot this week, in which co-chairs John Hunstman and Rep. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) have been making the op-ed and talk show circuits extolling the virtues of governmental "problem solving."

As Gene Healy pointed out this week,

Our problems are legion: unsustainable middle-class entitlements, overextension abroad, the world's largest per-capita prison population—and most of them stem from past occasions when "problem solvers" got together in chummy bipartisan fashion.

And as I wrote during No Labels 1.0,

The ideology of the do-something center, permanently encoded as it is in the DNA of political lifers and View-From-Nowhere media institutions, is arguably the single most powerful ideological strain in today's body politic. This is in part because it sells itself as being beyond ideology—hence, more attractive to those who nurture a rational disgust for politicians—and then so readily adheres to the program of whoever is wielding power.

Visual metaphor

National calamity is to the do-something pragmatist what fire is to the Lodgepole Pine: the essential delivery system for reproduction. When you start seeing quotes like "I don't know what we're going to do, but we're going to do something," you know it's getting hot outside.

But this combination of panicked urgency, will to government power, and maddening vagueness can be pretty comical in practice. So it was when the No Labels Huntsman-Manchin roadshow got pinned down on guns by Candy Crowley this weekend:

MANCHIN: We owe it to sit down and talk, but it has to be comprehensive. It can't be just—it's about guns and guns only. It can't be just about the mental illness or the lack of mental illness care that we have. And it can't be just about the video violence in the media.

I want every NRA member, I want every gun, law-abiding gun owner to know their second amendment rights will not be infringed upon, the same as the first amendment will not be infringed upon. But as adults, we have a responsibility to sit down and have an adult dialogue and try to have a comprehensive package that works.

CROWLEY: […] But the question is […] what is reasonable in terms of gun control when it comes to states who understand the gun culture and how deeply it is embedded in the culture of some of the states?

HUNTSMAN: Well, it has to be a little bit from all of the above. And that's why, you know, you're show…

CROWLEY: Should there be an assault weapons ban?

Make it stop!

HUNTSMAN: Well, listen, we've heard from the special interest groups. We're hearing from, you know, one end of the spectrum or that end of the spectrum. But in the end, our duly elected officials get together with an open mind and, then, make decisions on behalf of the people they represent. And that is where getting back to No Labels is so important. […]

CROWLEY: What is—I mean, you have called for reasonable gun—but what is reasonable to you? Is an assaults weapons ban such as the one we are about to get from Dianne Feinstein and Senator Blumenthal of Connecticut, is that reasonable?

MANCHIN: First of all, how do you keep the guns such as assault guns out of the hands of mentally deranged people that should have—should have help? […]

So basically, but that is a huge part. The other part of it is what type of weapons, how registration, how they are getting in hands. So all of that is reasonable to talk about.

There is a premise now in Washington that guilt by conversation. It used to be guilt by association, we've moved on to guilt by conversation. We can't even sit down and have conversations about can you talk about any of these issues whether it is the clips and whether it is registration and whether it is bans on certain military—you can't even talk about it. […]

CROWLEY: […] So the question here is, am I correct in interpreting what you're saying is that, sure, you would talk about an assault weapons ban, but it has to be in a more holistic package than just, here's an assault weapons ban?

MANCHIN: Well, let me just tell you about No Labels and problem solvers […]

CROWLEY: If I can just get a yes or no, possibly, assault weapons only stand alone ban…

MANCHIN: Assault weapons stand alone ban on just gun alone will not in the political reality that we have today will not go anywhere. It has to be comprehensive, Candy, and that is what I have tried to tell the vice president and I've told everybody, it has to be a comprehensive approach.

Reason on Sandy Hook here.

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  1. who just want to “Make America Work!”

    This sounds familiar…

    1. It will look good in metalwork letters over a gate.

    2. You’ll be changing your tune when No Labels has the trains running on time.

    3. We need a man who can make a plan work!!

    4. The more you work, the freer you’ll be!

  2. Joe is going to have fun explaining “assault guns” and the benefit of banning them to his WV constituents in a few years.

    An organization that actually solves our problems would be a House of Repeal.

    1. He just got elected. He’s got six years to hope that R op-research teams become incapable of googling “Manchin gun control” and then putting the salient facts into hit pieces.

  3. So, what state is Manchin gonna run for Senator from next time?

    1. Even Al Franken is against the assault weapons ban.

      1. Really? That’s a surprise. He give a rational for departing from the party line? He’s never struck me as one of the sensible legislators.

        1. His rational is simple, he dumb ass is up for re-election in 2014.

        2. Franken is from Minnesota. They have a lot of rural areas with deer and shit, and people who shoot at them.

          And he won the last time by, like, less than 0.1% of the vote.

  4. MANCHIN: Assault weapons stand alone ban on just gun alone will not in the political reality that we have today will not go anywhere. It has to be comprehensive, Candy, and that is what I have tried to tell the vice president and I’ve told everybody, it has to be a comprehensive approach

    You just can’t pass a single inane and pointless act. You have to pair it with other stupid and inane things. If you just put enough stupid ideas into one bill, we might get somewhere.

    1. So Manchin is on the record that an assault weapons ban doesn’t go nearly far enough?

  5. This morning I heard NPR frame the gun control debate as the government vs the gun manufacturers.

    Gun owners, self defense, and principles are not a factor.

    It’s all about fighting the corporations!

    1. The only reason anyone owns a gun is because it has been marketed to make them feel like they have a big penis. Tony told me so.

    2. I heard similar sentiments yesterday on NPR, they were talking about how the “industry” would be able to reach an agreement with the administration. They really don’t get that 2nd amendment groups are bottom up, not top down organizations.

      1. I remember when Smith and Wesson reached a similar agreement with the Clinton adminstration. They were instant pariahs. I went to a Friends of the NRA dinner where an auction was held, among the items was a S&W .44 mag revolver. I think bidding was called off when the highest offer was something like $10.

        1. Hell, Ruger, now one of the staunchest pro-2nd manufacturers, still takes shit for what Bill Ruger said about 10 round mags 20 years ago.

          1. My model 10 .22 is the original Assault Rifle! Burn in hell, Mr. Ruger!!111!

            1. I have a 50 round mag for my 10-22. Its a lot of fun.

    3. If the government wanted to construct a better program for gun makers’ maximum profit, they couldn’t do better than what they are doing, so if they’re fighting the gun mfgers, they’re doing it wrong.

      1. How about new yorks gift to magazine makers. You now have to go and buy nine 7 round mags to replace the four 15 round mags you have to turn in.

    4. I’m already seeing this talking point in newspaper comment sections. Son of Journolist gets the word out fast.

  6. BTW , the lodgepole pine analogy is fantastic.

  7. CROWLEY: So, do you support an assault weapons ban?

    NO LABELS SPOKESMEN: You see, expecting us to give a straight answer to a direct question is exactly the sort of partisan stuff we’re trying to get away from. So let me give some non-responsive generalities and run out the clock on your question.

    1. “NO LABELS SPOKESMEN: You see, expecting us to give a straight answer to a direct question is exactly the sort of partisan stuff we’re trying to get away from. So let me give some non-responsive generalities and run out the clock on your question.”

      I admire professionalism, even in asshattery.
      The guy could write copy for womens’ cosmetics!

    2. That interview is fantastic. An entire studio filled with empty word bubbles. “…blah, blah, get some experts in a room…conversation…blah, blah…”

  8. You know, when you read the Second Amendment, it seems like two rights are in play–the right for individuals to be armed, and the right for states to have militias. There are laws weakening that second right, but the demilitarization of the states is another way the federal government has defanged federalism.

    1. How have the states been demilitarized? They all still have national guards.

      1. Yes, but isn’t there law that basically gives the federal government control over the National Guard?

        1. No. The feds can federalize the national guard. But guards can also operate under what is called a state active duty status where they work for and are paid by the governor. And the feds can only federalize them to do federal work.

          1. So Florida can annex Georgia?

            1. Yes. With an army of killer pythons and alligators it should be easier.

              1. You’d be surprised how resistant rednecks are to reptile invasion. Atlanta and maybe Savannah are the only places we’ll be taking with our serviles.

                1. I liked serviles, too. The best part is that we can sell them to aid associations around the country without emphasizing too much the “rept” that goes with the “ile.”

                  Anyway, Florida is only looking to annex Atlanta and the mountains to the north. With access guaranteed to our new lands by the League of Nations.

              2. Georgia could only win if they can survive the first wave of pill and meth head zombies. However any standing Florida army would stop at the first sign of hills, we don’t do mismatched ground elevation

                1. That’s false, because morale would be high during mountain combat. It’s like a killing vacation.

                  Besides, alligators and pythons.

          2. My state’s National Guard is about 98.5% federally funded.

    2. The constitution does not call for a standing federal army.

      The army is the state militias, which is the People, that the federal government can call upon in need.

      Constitution shmonstitution. It’s a dead letter.

        1. At some point, Pro, reality is gonna bite you in the ass. Almost everyone in America doesn’t have the first clue what the Constitution is about.

          1. No doubt you’re right. But I’m not giving up.

      1. The constitution does not call for a standing federal army.

        It really doesn’t, just a standing Navy. Army appropriations bills can not be for longer than two years. The idea was you raised a federal army whenever you needed one.

        Sadly, that became impractical in the late 19th Century when armies got so big, so mobile, and so deadly that there was no longer time for a country being invaded or under the threat of invasion to raise an army from scratch.

        1. The people who wrote the constitution understood that standing armies are expensive, requiring lots of taxation to fund, and standing armies for the purpose of defense often become tools of aggression.

          They were right on both counts.

        2. Sadly, that became impractical in the late 19th Century when armies got so big, so mobile, and so deadly that there was no longer time for a country being invaded or under the threat of invasion to raise an army from scratch.

          Actually, trying to invade North America from somewhere else, especially if the citizenry is armed to the teeth, would give plenty of time to ramp up citizen militias to stop the invaders before they got very far inland.

    3. Funny, I see no reference in the 2A to “state” militias. I see militias being necessary to the security of a free state, but that doesn’t mean they have to be state militias.

      1. Fair point, though I guess it depends what “State” was supposed to mean.

  9. Ever notice that when the words of politicians are transcribed it’s just a bunch of buzzwords and garbled nonsense. Seriously, reread that shit above without any preconceived notions of what they are talking about, and tell me if it makes a lick of sense.

    1. For example, imagine that words have actual concrete meanings…

      Now tell me what the hell this means:

      First of all, how do you keep the guns such as assault guns out of the hands of mentally deranged people that should have — should have help? […]

      So basically, but that is a huge part. The other part of it is what type of weapons, how registration, how they are getting in hands. So all of that is reasonable to talk about.

      There is a premise now in Washington that guilt by conversation. It used to be guilt by association, we’ve moved on to guilt by conversation. We can’t even sit down and have conversations about can you talk about any of these issues whether it is the clips and whether it is registration and whether it is bans on certain military — you can’t even talk about it. […]

      1. You have to remember that the guy talking knows absolutely nothing about any of the subjects he is addressing.

        So when you and I hear

        First of all, how do you keep the guns such as assault guns out of the hands of mentally deranged people that should have — should have help?

        it sounds like meaningless nonsense. But you have to remember the person who is speaking is stupid and knows nothing about guns. So he actually thinks “assault guns” whatever they are are somehow more deadly or really a threat and other “non assault guns” are not. He doesn’t know or understand anything about guns, so his words are nonsense to anyone who does.

        1. I guess that is what separates the wise from the politician.

          When the wise don’t know something they listen, when the politician doesn’t know something he pontificates.

        2. I think an “assault gun” is one of those self-propelled artillery pieces.

        3. This is my rifle
          This is my gun
          This one’s for shooting
          This one’s for fun

      2. you can’t even talk about it.

        Which is why he didn’t even talk about it.

      3. Which is worse? The redirections and generalities to hide the fact you don’t no shit or just basically making up your facts to hide the fact you don’t know shit. Those are our choices.

    2. I ran for Congress once, in 1994. In a 3-way debate, the Democratic incumbent gave a 2-minute conclusion address that was precisely that. If you transcribed it and put it into MS Word, the entire text would have been flagged as ungrammatical gibberish. It was artful in its obfuscation.

      1. The derps who comprise the electorate generally interpret that as being thoughtful.

        1. Yes the press called that being nuanced when they described Kerry’s blatherings.

    3. Without seeing the nice haircut, designer spectacles, and look of concern, you are just taking things out of context.

  10. Whenever you hear the word “bipartisanship,” guard your wallet carefully.

    1. How about nonpartisanship? You know, dispensing altogether with the utterly false and dangerous dichotomy? Like that dude said. What was his name? Goshington?

      1. Was this guy twenty feet tall and weighed a fucking ton?

        1. Yeah, that’s the guy. Like Lo Pan but taller.

          1. The problem is, he saved the children but not the British children. That’s a problem these days.

            1. He once once burned an opponent’s wife’s hand in acid.

    2. ChrisO| 1.17.13 @ 10:58AM |#
      “Whenever you hear the word “bipartisanship,” guard your wallet carefully.”

      Absolutely! A partisan trying to pick your pocket my find some resistance from the other partisan.
      When they get together, it’s just a question of which one is fastest.

  11. “But as adults, we have a responsibility to sit down and have an adult dialogue and try to have a comprehensive package that works.”

    Comprehensive package that works:
    Repeal all gun control laws. Enact holster laws. Every negligent discharge I’ve seen the results of had to do with some jackass who can’t see clear to put his $1000 pistol into a $20 holster that covers the trigger guard.
    Legalize and regulate dueling. Anybody who can’t be polite, turn the other cheek and apologize can damn-well learn to use fist, pistol and blade.

    1. Throw in a PPV deal on the dueling, and I’m in.

      1. Fees from the PPV could replace taxation!

    2. Can we make the current Congress duel each other before they can register to run for re-election. Deloping disqualifies you from running again. I figure that would cut down the number of incumbents by 250 or so.

    3. So you think it should be legal to kill anyone who says something you don’t like?

      1. Do you even know what a duel is? The whole thing that makes it moral is that it is a consensual meeting between adults.

        1. “Anybody who can’t be polite, turn the other cheek and apologize can damn-well learn to use fist, pistol and blade” doesn’t sound like consenual to me. It sounds like LFoD reserving the right to attack anyone who doesn’t act sufficiently submissive for his tastes.

          1. I’ve got no problems with mutually agreed upon duels. But they used to be “you can fight me and I will win and kill you, or I will gun you down in cold blood”, which isn’t consensual at all.

            If I say something cheeky, they don’t get to gun me down for hurting their tender fucking feelings.

          2. “Anybody who can’t be polite, turn the other cheek and apologize can damn-well learn to use fist, pistol and blade” doesn’t sound like consenual to me. It sounds like LFoD reserving the right to attack anyone who doesn’t act sufficiently submissive for his tastes.

            Submissive? Hardly. If someone becomes churlish, he has the option to apologize. Anyone not willing to acknowledge his error may stand and defend his honor or leave and be branded unfit for polite company. The check on all this is obvious: Anyone so sensitive as to go looking for slights is likely to end up crippled or dead, no matter how good he is.

  12. It’s really too bad that Manchin used a bolt action in that campaign commercial. It would be awesome if it had been an AR 15 or somesuch.

  13. Well, listen, we’ve heard from the special interest groups. We’re hearing from, you know, one end of the spectrum or that end of the spectrum. But in the end, our duly elected officials get together with an open mind and, then, make decisions on behalf of the people they represent. And that is where getting back to No Labels is so important.

    Other No Labels gems:

    “I don’t think marijuana should be used for anything but recreational use and health care.”

    And of course, their famous Presidential candidate:

    “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over HERE in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future, for our children.”

    Oh wait, that was beauty pageant contestants… wait WTF is no labels again?

    1. I personally believe Miss Teen South Carolina has a solid future in politics.

      1. I’d still hit it.

  14. But I’m not giving up.

    The bitterness and tenacity of your clinging has not gone unnoticed.

  15. Facebook Friend: “But we have to do something!!!11!”
    Brandybuck: “No. No we don’t.”

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