"Gun control advocates sputter at their own impotence."
Such was the shocking opening sentence of a piece published by the Associated Press moments ago addressing the political aftermath of the tragic shootings at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.
In "Calls For Gun Control Stir Little Support," authors David Espo and Nancy Benac continued:
The National Rifle Association is politically ascendant. And Barack Obama's White House pledges to safeguard the Second Amendment in its first official response to the deaths of at least 12 people in a mass shooting at a new Batman movie screening in suburban Denver.
Once, every highly publicized outbreak of gun violence produced strong calls from Democrats and a few Republicans for tougher controls on firearms.
Now those pleas are muted, a political paradox that's grown more pronounced in an era scarred by Columbine, Virginia Tech, the wounding of a congresswoman and now the shooting in a suburban movie theater where carnage is expected on-screen only
The authors noted how recent actions by Democrats to restrict gun access have come with a political price.
After former President Bill Clinton enacted a ten-year gun ban on a variety of assault weapons in 1994, his Party suffered mightily at the polls losing both the House and the Senate in that year's historic mid-term elections.
Former Vice President Al Gore in 1999 cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate to restrict sales at gun shows:
"The news media in its lather to distort this whole issue may be wrong in their estimation that this will help Al Gore," then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., said in an Associated Press interview a few weeks after the tie-breaking vote. "As a matter of fact, it may already have hurt him, and it may hurt him a lot more."
Indeed it did. Many believe this vote played a huge role in Gore losing his home state of Tennessee in the 2000 presidential election.
As such, maybe what politicians understand better than the media is that public opinion towards guns has shifted in recent decades:
According to a Gallup poll in 1990, 78 percent of those surveyed said laws covering the sale of firearms should be stricter, while 19 percent said they should remain the same or be loosened.
By the fall of 2004 support for tougher laws had dropped to 54 percent. In last year's sounding, 43 percent said they should be stricter, and 55 percent said they should stay the same or be made more lenient.
Maybe it's time for the media to recognize that they are out of touch with the wishes of the American people.
This raises two question: is that even possible and do they even care?