President Obama was recently quoted as telling interviewer Fareed Zakaria that he sees his biggest as his inability to impose more gun control on the United States. That goal was just a bridge too far. Even the docile leadership of the Republican Party, who had done little to seriously oppose the President’s agenda, feared a pro-gun backlash from voters more than they feared the establishment media. Enough politicians feared the clout of gun culture voters to stop irrational bills fueled by raw emotion.
In response to Obama’s emotional speech, House Speaker Paul Ryan issued a statement which accused the president of going after the wrong people when it comes to gun control.
“From Day One, the president has never respected the right to safe and legal gun ownership that our nation has valued since its founding,” Ryan’s statement reads. “He knows full well that the law already says that people who make their living selling firearms must be licensed, regardless of venue. Still, rather than focus on criminals and terrorists, he goes after the most law-abiding of citizens. His words and actions amount to a form of intimidation that undermines liberty.”
President Obama has left a lasting legacy for the gun culture. But there are still some loose ends to wrap up.
Investigation into the Fast and Furious scandal, where the administration facilitated the transfer of thousands of semi-automatic rifles and pistols to Mexican drug cartels, has been delayed and stymied by the Obama administration at every turn. It’s unknown if a Trump administration, working with a Republican Congress, will be willing to dive into such an investigation. They may not have much choice; a lawsuit is in progress.
There is also the increased homicide rate, and the lingering Ferguson effect. The repeated bashing of police and implicit support for (or unwillingness to criticize) the false narratives of Black Lives Matter has resulted in a serious spike in attacks on police. In places like Baltimore, in Chicago, in Milwaukee, police report a reluctance to vigorously enforce laws in some cases, resulting in the homicide rates have skyrocketed.
There is the spike in suicides with guns, particularly with older white males, who saw their jobs, careers and medical insurance all wither and disappear under Obama’s policies. For the first time in decades, the life expectancy for Americans has actually declined.
Which brings us to the third, and greatest legacy of President Obama regarding guns. One one can deny. No one even tries. President Obama has been the greatest gun salesman on planet earth, ever. No one else is even close (though Hillary tried hard).
Under President Obama, gun sales in in the United States broke record after record. We’ve seen new highs for NICS checks for 19 consecutive months. On Black Friday alone, enough guns were sold to private parties in the United States to outfit the entire Marine Corps.
Under President Obama, the private stock of firearms in the United States will have increased from about 308 million to over 405 million firearms by most estimates. The ammunition industry has had to add new plants and capacity to keep up with the demand. Record numbers of women and minorities have become gun owners. The number of carry permits for has passed 15 million. The number of states the do not require a permit to carry a firearm, openly or concealed, has increased from three to eleven, and more appear to be on the way. Four states were added in 2016 alone.
While many factors were involved in the election of President-elect Trump, one of the starkest policy contrasts between him and Mrs. Clinton was their stances on guns and gun rights. Trump vigorously defended the Second Amendment. Clinton vigorously pushed for more infringements, following on President Obama’s lead.
President Obama can (but probably won’t) be justly proud of the appellation History’s Greatest Gun Salesman. It will likely be a long time before anyone else comes close. The gun culture found its footing and fought against him at considerable cost in time and treasure. But they should thank him. In this regard, he has performed an enormous service for the United States. President Obama may not appreciate the title, but he has well and truly earned it.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.