(Salon) -- For years now, most liberals have basically abandoned any hope that sensible gun safety laws would be passed in this country. The gun industry owns the Republican Party and will not tolerate losing a single sale, no matter who dies needlessly for it. Right-wing America has made the gun its favorite social signifier, a cross between a religious and psychosexual artifact. The obsessive belief that liberals are out to steal their guns is clearly a stand-in for all sorts of unspeakable and inchoate culture war terrors on the right, creating an explosive temper tantrum the second anyone even mentions the idea of gun control. The size and shape and loudness and irrationality and childishness of it is so over the top and impossible to manage that most liberals have given up.
But in Tuesday’s news conference, President Obama made a convincing counter-argument that conservatives aren’t the only people who can bring passion to this debate. Surrounded by families of victims of gun violence — the overcrowding of the room helping make his point for him — Obama spoke movingly of the need to do something, even if progress is slow, to reduce all the killing.