President Obama: “We Must Seek Agreement on Gun Reforms”

President Barack Obama (or someone in his direct employ) wrote the following editorial, published in azstarnet.com. Either it’s a “third way” warm-up to the big gun control speech promised to the anti-gun community post-Jared Lee Loughner spree killing, or a substitute for it. This half-hearted attempt to find common ground in the word “commonsense” could also be an attempt to distract attention away from the ATF’s Gunwalker scandal. In any case, it’s probably too little too late for the antis, and suspiciously detail-free for the pros. Full analysis here.

It’s been more than two months since the tragedy in Tucson stunned the nation. It was a moment when we came together as one people to mourn and to pray for those we lost. And in the attack’s turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people’s pain.

But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.

He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.

But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.

Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.

Now, like the majority of Americans, I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms. And the courts have settled that as the law of the land. In this country, we have a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s handed from generation to generation. Hunting and shooting are part of our national heritage. And, in fact, my administration has not curtailed the rights of gun owners – it has expanded them, including allowing people to carry their guns in national parks and wildlife refuges.

The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They’re our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that’s something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.

I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country.

However, I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place.

I’m willing to bet that responsible, law-abiding gun owners agree that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few – dangerous criminals and fugitives, for example – from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

I’m willing to bet they don’t think that using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas – that we should check someone’s criminal record before he can check out at a gun seller; that an unbalanced man shouldn’t be able to buy a gun so easily; that there’s room for us to have reasonable laws that uphold liberty, ensure citizen safety and are fully compatible with a robust Second Amendment.

That’s why our focus right now should be on sound and effective steps that will actually keep those irresponsible, law-breaking few from getting their hands on a gun in the first place.

• First, we should begin by enforcing laws that are already on the books. The National Instant Criminal Background Check System is the filter that’s supposed to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun. Bipartisan legislation four years ago was supposed to strengthen this system, but it hasn’t been properly implemented. It relies on data supplied by states – but that data is often incomplete and inadequate. We must do better.

• Second, we should in fact reward the states that provide the best data – and therefore do the most to protect our citizens.

• Third, we should make the system faster and nimbler. We should provide an instant, accurate, comprehensive and consistent system for background checks to sellers who want to do the right thing, and make sure that criminals can’t escape it.

Porous background checks are bad for police officers, for law-abiding citizens and for the sellers themselves. If we’re serious about keeping guns away from someone who’s made up his mind to kill, then we can’t allow a situation where a responsible seller denies him a weapon at one store, but he effortlessly buys the same gun someplace else.

Clearly, there’s more we can do to prevent gun violence. But I want this to at least be the beginning of a new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people.

I know some aren’t interested in participating. Some will say that anything short of the most sweeping anti-gun legislation is a capitulation to the gun lobby. Others will predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody’s guns. And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.

But I have more faith in the American people than that. Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.” And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.

As long as those whose lives are shattered by gun violence don’t get to look away and move on, neither can we.

We owe the victims of the tragedy in Tucson and the countless unheralded tragedies each year nothing less than our best efforts – to seek consensus, to prevent future bloodshed, to forge a nation worthy of our children’s futures.

 

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About Robert Farago

Robert Farago is the Publisher of The Truth About Guns (TTAG). He started the site to explore the ethics, morality, business, politics, culture, technology, practice, strategy, dangers and fun of guns.

11 Responses to President Obama: “We Must Seek Agreement on Gun Reforms”

  1. avatarRoy Hill says:

    “Commonsense” gun control has historically meant that anti-gun politicians will allow you to have any gun that you want, so long as it’s not too big, or not too small, or not too powerful, or not powerful enough, or not too scary looking, or doesn’t look too much like a child’s toy, or doesn’t take magazines that are too big, or that’s not too expensive, or not too cheap, or not too easy to shoot, or not too hard to shoot, or not too loud, or not too quiet, or not too accurate, or not too inaccurate.

    And “commonsense” gun control also has always meant that no matter what standards or definitions the anti-gun politicians use to create one “commonsense” law, those exact same standards and definitions can be totally and absolutely contradicted or ignored when they craft the next “commonsense” gun law.

    Of course, the ultimate “commonsense” gun law would mean you could have any gun you wanted, so long as it was a single-shot, took 30 minutes to reload, fired only ammunition made out of a soft, rubbery biodegradable substance that was safe for flowers, bunnies, puppies, and other cute living things, and had an effective range that was remotely-controlled by a committee of sensitive locavore vegans who all have an appropriately-developed history of voting correctly.

    Also, you’d need to have an RFID chip implanted in your trigger finger and in the gun, and you’d have to leave a DNA sample anytime you bought one round of that eco-greenie ammo, and it would cost $100 a shot.

  2. avatarWes says:

    Sounds like “gun show loophole” closing and Obama trying to work his way to the center before 2012 elections to me. If he keeps moving to the center, he’ll at least keep ticking off the hard Left. He’s already ticked off the Hillary supporters who now hate his guts and who no longer trust the Democratic Party.

    Someone let me know when he says there’s no need for a “high-capacity” magazine ban. Then maybe I’ll check my watch to give him the time of day.

  3. avatarRalph says:

    Given the Big O’s record of voting for every antigun bill ever proposed, I wouldn’t believe him if he said that the sun rises in the east.

  4. avatarEsteve says:

    No system will ever work if local law enforcement, family or friends neglect to act upon warning signs like those displayed by Loughner.

  5. avatarPT says:

    “Most gun owners know that the word “commonsense” isn’t a code word for “confiscation.”

    So they DO know what they are doing! And I thought they were just stupid.

  6. avatarChristopher says:

    Well, unfortunately most americans seem to lack common sense now. The wolf can have blood on the sheepskin he is wearing, be biting everybody he walks by, cussing and spitting and all the sheep are going to do is say “he has issues, his shrink can fix that or just say to themselves how his mother didn’t cuddle him enough. Then they get mad when the sheepdog puts the wolf down.

    As far as that “children getting murdered everyday” garbage, at what point do we say teenage gangbangers are not “children”.

  7. avatarL S Carper says:

    Had all the people that recognized Loughner was mentally ill done their job and had him committed, he would have been ineligible to buy the gun. Same with the Army doctor in Texas. Why do the politicians keep missing the point that allowing mentally ill people to roam freely among us with no record of committment or counseling is the problem? Could it be that proper care of the mentally ill is not sexy and won’t get you reelected? I’m with Roy, I do not feel like giving up ANY of my rights for politians to substitute their idea of commonsense, especially not my 2nd amendment rights which keep them from taking all my others.

    • avatarChristopher says:

      Uh, I hate to rain on your parade there L.S., but even if someone is mentally “ill” by law they are not required to put it on the 4473 form that everyone who buys from a FFL holder fills out. Something about medical record privacy… Even if they did it and were caught in the NICS check, nobody has been enforcing/investigating people who have tried and were denied. Even then, you do know that there is a blackmarket/underground/whatever where you can get almost anything you want???…

  8. avatarThe Infamous Oregon Lawhobbit says:

    Reform is simple. Nothing has really worked so far, so let’s wipe everything off the books and start again from scratch. After a year with no federal regulation (i.e. like it was in, say, 1930) let’s take a look at crime rates and decide on some strategies.

    Presuming, of course, that crime control is the goal.

  9. avatarJoel says:

    After reading this speech, I am of the opinion that it makes kind of a bit of sense… I think that this guy (the President) knows what he’s talking about. He mentioned that it was likely that the pro-gun zealots would take this like he wants to put more restrictions on the kinds of guns one could own, however, he never actually mentions restricting the kinds of guns people could own. He simply states that the security measures that we have already put in place need to be enforced more universally.

    If a guy with a shady past goes into gun store A, and tries to buy a pistol and is denied, it only makes sense that if he goes into gun store B, C and D that he will be denied there as well. Unfortunately, that isn’t always how it goes down. Let’s face it, money talks and bullshit walks, and in this day and age, not everyone is who they make themselves out to be. In other words, there are likely a few shady gun shop owners making a few thousand extra bucks selling guns on the side to people that would otherwise not be able to have access to them. And with the economy the way it is, desperate times, make desperate people do desperate things.

    The main reason that I own guns is a little word called “responsibility”. The meaning that I place upon this word is in the two words that it is made up of, “response” and “ability”. As an American citizen, it is my “responsibility” to protect other American citizens from harm. The fact that I have the “ability” to “respond” means that I am obligated to. This is the reason that I even own a gun. Not because I think that I’m going to be some vigilante hero, or think I’m some sort of cop or anything, but that any law abiding American citizen has the “responsibility” to ensure the safety of one another.

    I think that every law abiding citizen should own and carry a sidearm wherever they go, if people really did that, do you think criminals would have the balls to try and knock over a gas station knowing that all of the customers were packing heat?

    To sum up my statement, I think that strict enforcement of the laws that are already in place, in order to keep guns out of the hands of those that have given up that right previously by committing crimes, is what President Obama was basically saying.

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