Editor’s note: David Frum, a CNN contributor, is a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is the author of eight books, including a new novel, “Patriots,” and a post-election e-book, “Why Romney Lost.” Frum was a special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002.
(CNN) — On guns, President Obama needs a “Plan B.”The president himself recognizes that the votes probably aren’t there to pass any significant gun legislation through Congress. In his State of the Union address, he was reduced to pleading with Congress to allow a vote at all, never mind actually enact anything.
Even if Congress were seized by a sudden change of heart, the measures the president has proposed seem unlikely to achieve much.
Universal background checks would be a baby step forward. But until state governments join background checks to some effective system of gun licensing, the checks are very easily evaded. A felon or domestic batterer or disturbed person need only find a person with a clean background to buy a weapon for him.
But here are two things that can make a real difference — without a vote in Congress.
First: The president can direct the surgeon general to compile a scientific study of the health effect of individual gun ownership.