Who’ll Be the Boogyman?

There’s some welcome if not unexpected news on the gun front today from Connecticut (home for the obvious reason to the most robust debate on the subject after the Newtown massacre) and Maryland. The Connecticut bill, which Gov. Dan Malloy will sign today, adds a bunch of weapons to the state’s already-existing list of banned assault weapons; closes the gun-show loophole to a background check system; and institutes a 10-round capacity limit on ammo clips.

The Maryland House has passed a similar measure with the added feature of a licensing and fingerprinting system for handgun owners, which will see final action any day now.

Among the items of interesting political fallout to watch is who the Gun Lobby and the far-flung network of Second Amendment absolutists will decide to turn into the devil-figures for the occasional progress of legislation like this. In Connecticut, some pro-gun demonstrators were brandishing “Dan the Dictator” signs in reference to Malloy. But since the bill got significant Republican support (8 votes in the Senate, 20 in the House), it will probably be tempting for conservatives in the state to turn the passage of this legislation into an opportunity for a fresh round of RINO-hunting. In Maryland, the culprit is easier to identify: the bill is being blamed on Martin O’Malley’s presidential ambitions.

If, of course, Congress actually makes progress towards enacting significant new legislation, new symbols will arise of the evil conspiracy to rob Americans of their priceless freedoms and expose them to rape and robbery by those people. But it will be difficult for anyone at the federal or state level to eclipse the all-purpose Anti-Christ, Barack Obama.

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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.