When President Obama waded into the gun control debate on Sunday, it seemed as though he had slept through much of the news coverage following the tragic shooting in Arizona.
“[I]n the attack’s turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people’s pain,” the President wrote in the first paragraph of an op-ed for an Arizona newspaper.
Is he for real, or did he forget about Sheriff Clarence Dupnik, Senator Dick Durbin, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, the Daily Kos, and almost everyone at MSNBC? There was nothing BUT blame and finger pointing (mostly directed at Sarah Palin) coming from left-wingers in Tucson’s wake.
The hate speech must stop, says the left—unless, of course, it’s coming from unions threatening Republican lawmakers (and their families) in Wisconsin who are only trying to do what the people elected them to do.
Obama goes on to talk about “enforcing the laws that are already on the books.” There’s no doubt the erstwhile gun control advocate is trying to co-opt an argument of many gun owners, but enforcing existing bad laws places an unnecessary and costly strain on our law-enforcement resources.
Millions of honest, law-abiding gun owners are forced to undergo FBI background checks to prove their innocence before being allowed to buy a firearm (never mind that the Supreme Court has ruled twice recently that the Second Amendment protects an individual right), even though far less than one percent of all firearms will ever be used in a crime.
But Obama takes background checks into new territory. While everyone agrees that Jared Loughner should not have possessed a firearm, Obama suggests that because Loughner’s teachers, fellow students, and even the U.S. Army had concerns about his behavior, his gun purchase should have been denied. If only the FBI knew what everyone else seemed to know, the thinking goes, Loughner would have been stopped.
The lawyer and community organizer in the White House, however, neglects a glaring point; Loughner was never convicted in a court of law of anything that would disqualify him from owning a gun.
Loughner had run-ins with law enforcement, including Sheriff Dupnik, but the police let him go. It’s not that the background check system didn’t work—it worked as intended. Loughner had no record, so his gun purchase was allowed. What this case really highlights is the ineffectiveness (not to mention unconstitutionally) of background checks in general.
A background check can only stop someone from buying a firearm AFTER that person is already adjudicated a criminal or mental defective. (Of course, a determined violent criminal would not bother submitting to FBI-screening for permission to buy a gun in the first place.)
But while no background check can predict future violent behavior, that’s exactly where Obama seems to be going. If teachers, students, your neighbor, ex-wife or checkout clerk at the grocery store don’t think you should own a gun, then by gosh, you shouldn’t own one. And while we’re at it, let’s take away the First Amendment and your right to vote, too.
Using the Obama standard to deny people their civil liberties will result in hundreds of thousands of citizens being disarmed—creating more mandatory victims for the Jared Loughners of the world.
Law-abiding gun owners are also rightly concerned about what could come of such information held by the government. Gun owners are routinely mocked (thanks, Saul Alinsky) for suggesting that the government might misuse information about gun ownership—gleaned from background check records or other sources—to take away people’s guns.
But despite assurances to the contrary, dangerous government practices such as gun owner registration and firearms confiscation can and do occur.
For example, it was at one time legal to own an SKS Sporter rifle in California, so long as it was registered. But in 1997, then-California Attorney General Dan Lungren ruled the firearms fell under a state gun ban and sent a letter to the registered owners to turn their weapons in to the police or remove them from the state.
And just last week, Los Angeles police searched Charlie Sheen’s home for two and a half hours looking for firearms based on “information” that there were weapons at his residence. The good people of California, I’m sure, feel much safer now that Charlie’s antique firearm and a few bullets were confiscated. Never mind the gang violence terrorizing the streets of LA.
The President also wants to “reward” states for disarming more and more citizens, and make the system “faster and nimbler.” This is simply Washington-speak to give the government more power, sacrifice more individual liberty, and continue to grind the right to keep and bear arms into the dust.
Obama says that he has faith in the American people. If only that were true! Certainly the American people would be able to dig themselves out of the mess they’re in, and restore the Founding Fathers’ vision of liberty. But the faith of Obama—and many, many others in Washington from both parties—rests squarely in “We the government.”
John Velleco is Director of Federal Affairs for Gun Owners of America, a grassroots lobbying organization with over 300,000 members nationwide. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.