Return of the Town Hall Wars

TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro files a report on a town hall meeting on gun violence held by California’s centrist Democratic congressman Mike Thompson:

On Tuesday night, Thompson hosted the first of three gun violence town halls in his northern California district. As they vowed to do, gun control opponents showed up in force to make their case against new regulations. But, according to local reports of the meeting, they were met with equally impassioned gun control proponents. It’s a preview of what might happen after the White House and Thompson reveal their post-Newtown legislative proposals: opposition to gun control is likely to be met by vocal support for new gun regulations that is just as loud.

McMorris-Santoro notes this brings back memories of the equally impassioned by largely one-sided participation in town hall meetings during congressional consideration of the Affordable Care Act.

I’m not sure if it’s safe to assume citizens favoring gun regulations will be as well-represented in town halls in North Georgia as opposed to Northern California. But there’s a difference in context that should make progressives welcome rather than fear such events.

The ACA, after all, was a new and complex piece of legislation that was easier to demagogue against than to explain. All the shouting may have influenced some well-intentioned people it needed more scrutiny or even a fresh congressional start.

In the case of gun regulations, pretty much everybody in the country has heard the arguments on both sides for years and seen the same sad news stories of various massacres. If Second Amendment absolutists want to flood town hall meetings and shriek about conspiracies to take away their hunting rifles or their right to stockpile military weapons in case they decide it’s time to start shooting cops and members of the armed forces to stop shut acts of tyranny as Obamacare–well, let ’em have at it. I do not think the case for gun-nuttery gets any stronger from discussion, at whatever volume.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.