Finally, some real talk about the Second Amendment

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On the roster: Finally, some real talk about the Second Amendment - All signs point to Senate run by Scott - Trump tries to add to legal team, gets denied -
Calif. to sue Trump over census citizenship question - ‘Are we good?’

Supporters of gun control measures have been quick to blame corrupt lawmakers and their NRA paymasters for the failure to pass meaningful legislation restricting firearms in the era of mass shootings.

And while there’s no doubt that the NRA has been astonishingly successful as a pressure group over the past 20 years, arguments that focus on the power of the association tends to overlook a key fact: The gun control measures proffered in the wake of these mass murders by and large would have done little, if anything, to have prevented the massacres that inspired them.

Most conspicuously, in the wake of the carnage at a Connecticut elementary school just before Christmas in 2012, gun control advocates settled upon and rallied behind a proposal to beef up the system of background checks on legal firearms purchases.

That had absolutely nothing to do with how a mentally ill 20-year-old killed 20 children between the ages of 6 and 7 and six adults in the span of about five minutes. He took the weapons from his mother, who was his first victim that day. He did not buy them in the parking lot of a gun show or on the internet. He just took them.

Legislation restricting the sale or transfer of firearms from one individual to another sounded like too little and too much at the same time. There was no obvious point of the legislation other than placating upset voters, and time and distractions do a better job than political placation anyway.

Proponents couldn’t do any better because they ran up hard against two truths: Americans at the time of the massacre were mostly opposed to tighter gun laws and the Second Amendment to the Constitution as interpreted by the Supreme Court since 2008 prevents the kinds of firearms restrictions common in most of the world.

In the wake of the most recent mass shooting at a school, which claimed 14 teenaged students and three staff members at a high school in Florida on Valentine’s Day of this year, will things be different?   

There’s plenty of reasons to think that the answer is yes.

The well-organized, affecting, lavishly covered efforts by the survivors of the latest rampage to push for gun control may play a part, but two other changes are likely to matter more. 

First, opposition to gun control, which started to rise in the era of insecurity following 9/11 and then reached an outright majority during Barack Obama’s first term in the White House, has dropped dramatically in the years since the Newtown, Conn. murders. 

By late last year, Gallup found that 60 percent of adults wanted stricter firearms regulations while 38 percent wanted current rules maintained or relaxed. In the fall of 2011, by comparison, 55 percent wanted the status quo or less for gun regulations and 43 percent, an all-time low, wanted stricter rules.

Second, and perhaps more important, gun control proponents have started to talk more frankly about the Second Amendment. 

In an op-ed at the NYT today, former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens came out and said what many on his side have been conditioned to resist saying for decades: Repeal the Second Amendment.

“Overturning [the Supreme Court’s decision in the 2008 case of District of Columbia v. Heller] via a constitutional amendment to get rid of the Second Amendment would be simple and would do more to weaken the N.R.A.’s ability to stymie legislative debate and block constructive gun control legislation than any other available option.”

The NRA and other gun rights proponents were quick to glom on to the former justice’s piece as evidence of the gun control lobby’s gun-grabbing impulses. And many on the gun control side no doubt winced at the damage to a core talking point for the movement.

But the talking points in this debate are way past stale. It’s time for some new ones on both sides.

The tension between the first clauses and the last clauses of the Second Amendment is between the question of “why” and the question of “how.”

Why did the Founders and their generation believe that the government should be forbidden from disarming Americans? “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State…” 

How did the Founders and the state lawmakers of 1791 believe this should be achieved? “[T]he right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

The Founders gave us the amendment process for a reason, though Americans have substantially abandoned it in the past 30 years. That’s partly a result of parties and politicians more interested in preserving disputes for the purposes of vote getting and fundraising, and also, just as sadly, because of a deepening civic ignorance in our electorate.

It’s long past time for America to have a frank, grown-up debate about the tension between the two parts of the Second Amendment – “well regulated” and “shall not be infringed.” 

Whatever you may think about Steven’s personal position, we all ought to thank him for acknowledging the real issue at hand. We owe our forebears and the victims of these monstrous crimes a worthy debate. 

“[Without a Constitution] we may reasonably expect, from the gradual conflicts of State regulations, that the citizens of each [state] would at length come to be considered and treated by the others in no better light than that of foreigners and aliens.” – Alexander Hamilton, Federalist No. 22

ESPN:Clayton Kershaw cracked open a window into the future on May 25, 2008. One minute, Vin Scully was introducing the television audience to the 2006 first-round MLB draft pick from Texas with the smooth cheeks and slight hesitation in his delivery. Thirty-two pitches later, Kershaw walked off the mound having struck out the side against the St. Louis Cardinals in the first inning of his major league debut. … Kershaw turned 30 years old March 19 and has three Cy Young Awards, an MVP, five ERA titles, four strikeout titles and seven straight All-Star Games on his résumé. He's paid like an ace, with three years and $98 million left on the mammoth contract extension he signed in 2014. Kershaw has to decide by November whether he'll exercise an opt-out clause in the deal. Based on his 21 1/3 scoreless innings and 23-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio in the Cactus League, he's not exactly stressing it.”

[Ed. note: Though, we should point out, boo Dodgers.]

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Trump job performance 
Average approval: 
41.8 percent 
Average disapproval: 52.8 percent 
Net Score: 
-11 points
Change from one week ago: up 2.8 points
[Average includes: CNN: 43% approve - 53% disapprove; Marist College: 42% approve - 51% disapprove; Fox News: 45% approve - 52% disapprove; Gallup: 39% approve - 55% disapprove; Quinnipiac University: 40% approve - 53% disapprove.]

Control of House
Republican average: 40.6 percent
Democratic average: 47.6 percent
Advantage: Democrats plus 7 points
Change from one week ago: Democratic advantage down 3.6 points 
[Average includes: Quinnipiac University: 49% Dems - 43% GOP; NBC News/WSJ: 50% Dems - 40% GOP; George Washington University: 49% Dems - 40% GOP; Monmouth University: 50% Dems - 41% GOP; USA Today/Suffolk: 47% Dems - 32% GOP.]

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**we now return you to our regularly scheduled political palaver**

Tampa Bay Times: “Gov. Rick Scott announced Monday that his chief of staff, Jackie Schutz Zeckman, resigned Sunday to pursue other opportunities, stoking fresh speculation that Scott's candidacy for the U.S. Senate is days away. Scott tweeted on Monday that he will make a ‘big announcement’ on Facebook Live on Monday, April 9. Her replacement is Brad Piepenbrink, 32, who has served as a deputy chief of staff and earlier ran Scott's external affairs operation and worked on his 2014 re-election campaign. The change is effective immediately. The departure of Schutz Zeckman is sure to intensify speculation that Scott is nearing an announcement that he will seek the U.S. Senate seat held since 2001 by Bill Nelson. Nelson, 75, a Democrat, defeated Republican Bill McCollum in 2000 and has not been seriously tested since. He breezed to re-election victories over Katherine Harris in 2006 and Connie Mack IV in 2012.”

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Politico: “A pair of veteran white-collar lawyers have turned down President Donald Trump’s offer to help lead his defense in the Russia probe, marking another setback for a legal team that’s seen its numbers dwindle over the past week while it prepares for a potentially critical interview between the president and special counsel Robert Mueller. The law firm Winston & Strawn said Monday night that two of its partners — former federal prosecutors Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb — were approached by Trump but declined the job ‘due to business conflicts.’ ‘However, they consider the opportunity to represent the president to be the highest honor, and they sincerely regret that they cannot do so,’ the law firm said. ‘They wish the president the best and believe he has excellent representation in Ty Cobb and Jay Sekulow.’ Trump’s legal team is now led by Cobb, who is handling official White House matters in response to Mueller’s investigation, and Sekulow… the public face of the president’s outside legal team.”

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Trump pines for Porter - NYT: “President Trump has stayed in touch with Rob Porter, the former White House staff secretary who stepped down after allegations that he had abused his two former wives came to light, according to three people familiar with the conversations, and has told some advisers he hopes Mr. Porter returns to work in the West Wing. The president’s calls with Mr. Porter have increased in the last few weeks, as the number of people he is close to in the White House has dwindled because of the large number of staff departures, the people familiar with the calls said. In Mr. Trump’s orbit, few people are ever permanently exiled. He often sees aides who are subject to public criticism as extensions of himself, coming under fire because critics want to attack him…”

Fox News: “California on Monday promised to sue the Trump administration over its decision to ask the 2020 census respondents if they are citizens of the United States. California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced the suit against the administration late Monday on Twitter… The Commerce Department said in a statement that the citizenship question would be added in response to a request by the Justice Department made in December. The statement said that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross ‘has determined that reinstatement of a citizenship question on the 2020 decennial census questionnaire is necessary to provide complete and accurate census block level data.’ … In a San Francisco Chronicle opinion piece published Monday, Becerra and California Secretary of State Alex Padilla wrote that the inclusion of a citizenship question would be ‘illegal’ and ‘an extraordinary attempt by the Trump administration to hijack the 2020 census for political purposes.’ … According to the Commerce Department, ‘almost every decennial census’ between 1820 and 1950 ‘asked a question on citizenship in some form.’”

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“I’m also more of a hawk on immigration than even the president. My view was these DACA kids shouldn’t all be allowed to stay in the country legally.” – Utah Senate candidate Mitt Romney in a forum with voters in answer to a questioner who alleged he was not conservative.

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The Sun News: “A woman attempted to take a chocolate bunny from a Myrtle Beach Walgreens, but didn't end up leaving the store with the bunny, police said. Instead, after being confronted about attempting to steal, the unknown woman crumbled the chocolate bunny, threw it inside and asked, ‘Are we good?’ before leaving the store, a police report says. Police say the woman walked past all points of sale Sunday evening at Walgreens, 300 S. Kings Highway.”

Chris Stirewalt is the politics editor for Fox News. Brianna McClelland contributed to this report. Want FOX News Halftime Report in your inbox every day? Sign up here.