“THE epidemic of gun violence in our country is a crisis.” That’s the first line of President Obama’s New York Times editorial Guns Are Our Shared Responsibility. Obama starts as he means to finish: with a lie. If “gun violence” was “epidemic” it would be “rife, rampant, widespread, wide-ranging, extensive, pervasive.” It is none of these things, and the President knows it. Equally, the word “epidemic” implies that “gun violence” is a growing, spreading threat to our society. It is not; violent crime is down, and the President knows it. No surprise, then, that the President doubles down and proceeds with what’s called The Big Lie . . .
Gun deaths and injuries constitute one of the greatest threats to public health and to the safety of the American people. Every year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Suicides. Domestic violence. Gang shootouts. Accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters, or buried their own children. We’re the only advanced nation on earth that sees this kind of mass violence with this frequency.
The Commander-in-Chief has repeatedly declared that “we’re the only advanced nation on earth that sees this kind of mass violence.” It’s a trick! There are plenty of nations that see more “mass violence” than the United States. (Mexico springs to mind.) There’s only one way to put America at the top of the “mass violence” chart: declare that those countries with more “mass violence” than us aren’t advanced – because they have more “mass violence.” See how that works?
The President made this statement after the San Bernardino terrorist attack, a few days before the Paris terrorist attacks. The French slaughter made a mockery of the idea that America alone is prone to “mass violence.” (As if the 2011 Norway spree killing wasn’t enough.) So now Mr. Obama’s added the qualifier “with this frequency” – another claim that relies on cherry-picking the data sample – to maintain the fiction that America is in the middle of a “gun violence” crisis! An epidemic!
Notice that the President’s changed the definition of “mass violence.” Before, Mr. Obama used to term to refer to spree killing of one sort of another. Now he uses the term to describe the combined total of all “gun violence”: firearms-related suicide, domestic violence, gang gun battles and accidents. By lumping them all together the President purposefully ignores the different causes and potential remedies for each category. Why? Because crisis! Because gun control!
A national crisis like this demands a national response. Reducing gun violence will be hard. It’s clear that common-sense gun reform won’t happen during this Congress. It won’t happen during my presidency. Still, there are steps we can take now to save lives. And all of us — at every level of government, in the private sector and as citizens — have to do our part.
We all have a responsibility.
Translation: I’ve failed. It’s your turn. Actually, that’s not a bad way to look at it. There is a lot Americans can do to reduce the number of people injured or killed by gunfire. Some two-thirds of firearms-related deaths are suicides. There’s no reason we can’t address mental health challenges on the personal, community and corporate level. OK, government policy too. Yes, well, that’s not where Mr. Obama’s going . . .
On Tuesday, I announced new steps I am taking within my legal authority to protect the American people and keep guns out of the hands of criminals and dangerous people. They include making sure that anybody engaged in the business of selling firearms conducts background checks, expanding access to mental health treatment and improving gun safety technology. These actions won’t prevent every act of violence, or save every life — but if even one life is spared, they will be well worth the effort.
Funny how the President calls for our help to reduce “gun violence” and then tells us about his executive make-that-unilateral actions to “protect the American people.” I find it strange that Mr. Obama doesn’t see the disconnect between his faux inclusiveness and paternalistic authoritarianism (to put it charitably).
Also odd: Mr. Obama fails to mention that his $500m request to Congress to “expand access to mental health treatment” was accompanied by a change in the law allowing doctors to violate HIPPA and advise the FBI to ban patients from purchasing firearms. Which would discourage mentally ill people — especially veterans — from seeking treatment. Which would increase the possibility of them being involved in “gun violence.”
Not surprisingly, the President ends this brief, non-comprehensive description of his executive actions by lowering Americans’ expectations of their potential positive impact to just above zero. This rhetorical ruse assumes there’s no cost associated with this singular (as in one) benefit. As anyone who knows how government works, there’s always a cost to any new law: expanded government power. And, thus, reduced liberty. But hey, this time it’s personal . . .
Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen. I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.
What is this “common-sense gun reform” of which the President speaks? Not specified. Suffice to say, support for expanded background checks does not constitute support for this package of unspecified “common-sense gun reforms” that the President and gun control advocates seek. The President’s advocacy of an “assault weapons” or “weapons of war” ban, for example, would not achieve a 90 percent public approval rating.
All of us have a role to play — including gun owners. We need the vast majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us after every mass shooting, who support common-sense gun safety and who feel that their views are not being properly represented, to stand with us and demand that leaders heed the voices of the people they are supposed to represent.
So now we know what the President was asking for in his earlier appeal to all Americans to help curb “mass violence”: support for his gun control agenda. In his own words, “All of us — at every level of government, in the private sector and as citizens” should “stand with us and demand that leaders” enact “common-sense gun reforms.” Whatever those are.
The gun industry also needs to do its part. And that starts with manufacturers.
As Americans, we hold consumer goods to high standards to keep our families and communities safe. Cars have to meet safety and emissions requirements. Food has to be clean and safe. We will not end the cycle of gun violence until we demand that the gun industry take simple actions to make its products safer as well. If a child can’t open a bottle of aspirin, we should also make sure she can’t pull the trigger of a gun.
You can substitute the word “force” for “demand” when the President says we must “demand that the gun industry take simple actions to make its products safer.” Mr. Obama justifies this demand for the public’s demand by equating firearms’ safety features (or lack thereof) with that of automobiles and aspirin bottles. It’s a patently ridiculous comparison. More than that, we’re back to presidential paternalism. We have to force the firearms industry to change their products to protect Americans from themselves! For the children!
Mr. Obama contends that “we will not end the cycle of gun violence” until government forces the firearms industry to do its bidding, safety-wise. The obverse of this statement is absurd. Will firearms safety devices stop suicides, domestic violence and gang shootouts? I don’t think so.
So-called “smart guns” might prevent some firearms-related accidents, but firearms accidents are statistically irrelevant. Yes but — if it saves one child! And again, there’s a cost to the insignificant benefit (expense, slower emergency access to a firearm, reduced reliability and the possibility of government interference with the gun’s operation).
Yet today, the gun industry is almost entirely unaccountable. Thanks to the gun lobby’s decades of efforts, Congress has blocked our consumer products safety experts from being able to require that firearms have even the most basic safety measures. They’ve made it harder for the government’s public health experts to conduct research on gun violence. They’ve guaranteed that manufacturers enjoy virtual immunity from lawsuits, which means that they can sell lethal products and rarely face consequences. As parents, we wouldn’t put up with this if we were talking about faulty car seats. Why should we tolerate it for products — guns — that kill so many children each year?
At a time when manufacturers are enjoying soaring profits, they should invest in research to make guns smarter and safer, like developing microstamping for ammunition, which can help trace bullets found at crime scenes to specific guns. And like all industries, gun manufacturers owe it to their customers to be better corporate citizens by selling weapons only to responsible actors.
The gun industry is “almost entirely” unaccountable? They enjoy “virtual immunity” from lawsuits? Talk about weasel words. The firearms industry is only shielded from lawsuits that try to make them liable for the illegal use of their legal products – provided industry types sell their legal products legally. To “responsible actors.” It’s the same common-sense protection that shields the automobile, liquor and pharmaceutical industries. As well it should, lest these industries be sued out of existence.
Yes, there is that. The President knows full well that removing the firearms industry’s legal protection against lawsuits for the criminal use of their products would destroy the industry. By arguing for “holding the firearms industry” accountable – for the children! – Mr. Obama is signaling that his anti-gun animus goes well beyond confiscating Americans’ firearms, or particular examples thereof. He wants to stop firearms production for civilians entirely. (Except for police and military, of course.)
As for “making it harder for the government’s public health experts to conduct research on gun violence,” the industry didn’t do that. Congress did. And even if you ascribe to the belief that the firearms industry control the politicians who control the CDC’s budget, the only caveat “preventing” firearms-related research is that it must not advocate gun control. It must be objective. Which is not a word I’d apply to Mr Obama’s editorial.
Ultimately, this is about all of us. We are not asked to perform the heroism of 15-year-old Zaevion Dobson from Tennessee, who was killed before Christmas while shielding his friends from gunfire. We are not asked to display the grace of the countless victims’ families who have dedicated themselves to ending this senseless violence. But we must find the courage and the will to mobilize, organize and do what a strong, sensible country does in response to a crisis like this one.
All of us need to demand leaders brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies. All of us need to stand up and protect our fellow citizens. All of us need to demand that governors, mayors and our representatives in Congress do their part.
You know we’re heading down the home stretch; the President is trying to tug on heart strings while reminding readers there’s a crisis! As he flies down the final anti-firearms furlong, the President reverts to type by identifying, personalizing and smearing the “gun lobby” as “the enemy.” The lobby that consists of American citizens who legally make, sell, buy, keep, bear and/or use firearms, protected against government infringement on their right to do so by the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
As I’ve pointed out before, this president is incapable of unifying Americans who hold disparate views. If Ronald Reagan was “The Great Communicator” President Obama is “The Great Divider.” He sees no value in the “gun lobby” (created by Americans for Americans) — except as the target of condescending derision and scorn. Not to put too fine a point on it, he wants to destroy “the gun lobby” and all that it stands for (i.e.. life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness).
Change will be hard. It won’t happen overnight. But securing a woman’s right to vote didn’t happen overnight. The liberation of African-Americans didn’t happen overnight. Advancing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans has taken decades’ worth of work.
Those moments represent American democracy, and the American people, at our best. Meeting this crisis of gun violence will require the same relentless focus, over many years, at every level. If we can meet this moment with that same audacity, we will achieve the change we seek. And we will leave a stronger, safer country to our children.
The President is asking New York Times readers to place the campaign to degrade and destroy Americans’ their natural, civil and Constitutionally protected right to keep and bear arms on the same moral high ground as the campaign to ensure the Constitutional rights of women and African-Americans. Only in the Orwellian mind of Progressives – where tyranny is liberty and rights denied are rights protected – would such an idea find fertile soil.
The President’s evocation of “American democracy” in the final paragraph of his polemic is equally warped and misleading. Lest we forget — as the former “Constitutional scholar” seems to have done — the right to keep and bear arms is a Constitutional right. As such it is not subject to the democratic process (a.k.a., mob rule). The President’s contention that democratically enacted gun control will leave America a stronger, safer country reveals that no words are safe from the deprivation of intentional distortion.
One more thing: the President’s call for anti-gun audacity — for the children! — is the most audacious part of this otherwise by-the-numbers anti-gun rights screed. The President’s executive orders were timid at best. Thank God for that but — I wish the President and gun control advocates would come out and tell the truth about their civilian disarmament agenda. It would make for a far a more entertaining – and enlightening – editorial.