So, this is what a “conversation” on gun control looks like to President Obama: You paint those who disagree with you as un-American and enablers of mass murder. And there’s not much interest in actually listening to the “folks” who disagree with him.
The president, freed from the need to run for office again, appears relieved that he also no longer has to pretend that he cares about unity in his quest to transform the country.
His previous claim that there is no Red or Blue America, but only, “the United States of America?” Never mind.
Remember when George W. Bush was president, and Democrats constantly said dissent was “the highest form of patriotism?” Never mind.
Whatever your view of the Second Amendment, it is worth considering there is some serious manipulation going on here. And if you are lulled into complacency by warm, fuzzy promises, you’re headed to a place where freedom really will be just another word for nothing left to lose.
For starters, government by tragic anecdote is a terrible way to govern. But that is the key to this campaign.
Tapping once again into the mantra of his former chief of staff and now Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel never to let “a serious crisis go to waste,” the president first surrounded himself with children — juvenile human shields, as some observed — when he signed a series of executive orders related to gun control.
The president has said the “American people” are on his side, that those who oppose his agenda are simply a powerful lobbying group. So he doesn’t even have to say it explicitly; the 45 percent or so who still want to protect gun rights don’t even qualify as “American people.”
Next, Obama and his supporters know that before you can achieve gun control, you have to achieve thought control. Hence, the effort to erase “gun control” from the debate. It’s been replaced with “gun safety.”
See, don’t pay any attention to the government telling you what kinds of guns you can’t own, limiting how many bullets a magazine can hold and requiring background checks. It’s not about control, it’s about safety. That’s all you need to know. They’ll tell you if you need to know anything else.
Then you twist the meaning of the Second Amendment’s guarantee of the right to “bear arms.” What the founders really meant, they say, is that you have the right to hunt rabbits and deer.
That, of course, is absurd, like saying the First Amendment is there to protect your right to tell a friend where you’d like to go for dinner. Those amendments are there to protect fundamental rights that others may find uncomfortable or even offensive. The plain meaning here is that the people should be allowed to bear arms for self defense — to stop a criminal or to oppose a tyrannical government.
But now we’ve got governors, members of Congress and even the president arguing that the only issue is how many bullets it takes to bring down a deer.
Next is the soothing assurance that this is only about banning “assault weapons” and making sure that mentally ill people don’t get their hands on guns. Who could be against that?
Well, if that would solve the problem, sure, bring it on.
But those on both sides know it will not solve the problem. Those who take the time to look at evidence, instead of emotion-drenched “save the children” declarations, know that the vast majority of firearm-related deaths are from handguns, not rifles of any kind.
So, when an assault weapons ban does not work, then the “gun safety” people will be back demanding handguns. You know, for your own protection.
The mental health piece of this could have some merit, except for the fact that any kind of sanctions on those considered mentally ill are selectively enforced. A huge (and predominantly Democratic) lobby opposes publicity or background information about people with mental illness because they say it unfairly “stigmatizes” them.
They have a point; I’m sure the large majority of those with mental illness do not attempt mass murder. It’s just that virtually all of those who do are later shown to have had a history of mental illness.
There is a creepy element to this, as well. What do millions of gun control advocates call their opponents? “Gun nuts.” Which means, you know, something’s not right in your head. You’re mentally ill, so you shouldn’t own a gun.
Finally, there is the absurd pandering that occurs every time there is a tragedy like Sandy Hook. An attempt to stifle constitutional freedoms in the name of safety “for the children,” is generally justified by, “If it saves even one life, it’s worth it.”
No, it is not. It would save many lives to impose a national speed limit of 25 mph. It would save lives to outlaw alcohol. But most rational people realize that revoking freedoms is not a good tradeoff for how much safer we all will allegedly be.
As was said many years ago, those who trade freedom for security will get neither. That came from “gun nuts” Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. And I’ll stick with that kind of mental illness every time.
Taylor Armerding is an independent columnist. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org