President Addresses Gun Control, State of Political Discourse

Aim to misbehave.

Many wondered why, in the immediate aftermath of the Tucson shooting, gun control didn’t immediately leap to the of the agenda. Question the timing, but apparently, now it has.

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.

The President tempers this language of immediacy with a clear statement that, “like the majority of Americans,” he believes “the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms,”and a reminder that the Administration has in fact expanded gun rights, before launching into a preemptive defense of his position, and the issue’s importance:

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. [. . .]

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.

Obama’s PR team, it seems, has finally learned that any action this administration takes will be met with hostility, branded radicalism, and lost within the first Fox news cycle, due to a counter-messaging operation bent on convincing the country of their president’s other-ness. But despite (or because of) this reflexively anti-administration kick, President Obama remains the only side of the spectrum capable of talking to the middle, and advocating moderation. I welcome this new policy initiative both on its own merits, and as a proxy war for that proposition.

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22 comments

  1. “Many wondered why, in the immediate aftermath of the Tucson shooting, gun control didn’t immediately leap to the of the agenda…”

    Probbaly because the Left decided to use the shootings as an opportunity to slam the Right for political rhteoric rather than discuss gun issues.

    But since we are NOW talking about it, I’m curious to hear the initial suggestion from the liberal commentors around here as to what exactly should be done.

    1. If you’d actually read the article, you’d see Obama’s calling for instant background checks, something even the NRA supports.

      1. If you read my comment you will see that I was asking for the opinion of the people who comment on this blog – not the President.

  2. Well, we could always read the editorial.

    1. I’m asking for the commentors opinions – unless you’re just going to let the President do all the thinking for you.

      1. Since I started a new job today, here’s my fore-shortened view:
        Americans, on both sides, spend too much focusing on the “The government shall make no law abridging the right . . .” part of the Amendment, and too little time focusing on the “A well regulated militia being necessary to defend a free state . . .” I have always viewed “gun control” (which FWIW is a misnomer in this case) as all about the well regulated militia.

        1. Yeah, but it’s a poorly written amendment. Be better to replace it with something like “Self defense being an inalienable human right, and killing people often making the world a better place, every citizen shall be required to own and demonstrate competence with a weapon.”

    2. Not the point of the post. I think what he suggested, though, is reasonable, which is the point of the post.

      1. Ames, right, the point of the post was to pat the big O on the back – I’m asking you though, what do you think needs to be done to deal with US gun crime?

  3. oneiroi · ·

    I do think that a lot of assumptions go into Barack Obama’s actions. The storing of arms by conservatives after his election, assuming he’s raised taxes when he’s cut them…which is why I think he’s stayed away from those issues.

    I’m just glad he brought it up again, and that it didn’t get killed by the news cycle moving on. Kind of like any legislative response to the oil spill.

  4. I for one agree with what the President says, although I still think that the mental health issues ought to be a much greater part of the discussion.

    1. Well his proposals are pretty vague. He wants background checks before gun purchases through an automated system. This is already in place. He wants mental health barriers but that’s nearly impossible to enforce.

      1. Yeah, but which politican doesn’t start with vague proposals and then refine them only when backed into a corner? And as to the “automated” system,the Washington Post did a series on ATF enforcement recently where it was revealed that the ATF end is still people entering stuff into the computer by hand. Hence the 3 to 7 day turn around. Some states have gone better, but not uniformly. So a proposal to do a uniform automated system would be an improvement.

        1. And the NRA supports an automated background check. Unfortunately, this isn’t going to stop most of the trafficking problems or prevent shootings like we saw in Tucson.

          1. no its not. Neither will Open Carry or any of the reactions that lean so far to the other end of the spectrum. All it takes, afterall, is one nut willing to trade his life for . . . .

            1. There is plenty we can do to address trafficking but I haven’t seen any willingness to do so on either side of the aisle.

  5. I was asked to comment on this apparently; I’d be on board with any of the policy options in the editorial, but I too haven’t seen anything from either side. It’s nice, by the way, that the NRA says they’re willing to address X Y or Z. But that they’re still running “Obama is taking away your guns” ads — things I get, too, but they go to spam — I’m not sure that statement is made in good faith.

    1. So quicker background checks and some kind of vague policy about the mental state of potential gun buyers? That’s all you guys have?

      I can think of no other issue in American politics where one side of the aisle is more uneducated and uninformed about the issue. That’s sort of why i asked for personal opinions from the liberal commentariat. There’s universal deference to the President because Most Liberals simply cannot formulate a logical opinion on gun control.

  6. Speculating on the future of gun control was explicitly not the purpose of this post. Rather, the goal was to note the President’s moderate tone, and the pains he takes to disclaim the wild conspiracy theories animating the right these days, which I think is both remarkable in its clarity, and for its necessity.

    Now, when I aim to, I imagine I’ll be able to formulate a logical opinion on what can be done about gun control. Until then, I don’t see the problem with noting abstract level trends.

    Also, I’d say most conservatives are equally uneducated on gay rights. They have a loose preference for “burn them” but that’s about it.

    1. There’s nothing to be educated about on gay rights. We know exactly what they are looking for and some conservatives are opposed. The end.

      On the flip side, there’s a little more nuance to gun policy and I find that very few liberals know enough about guns or gun law to be able to form an opinion. I don’t know how you can determine that the President’s proposal is moderate when you don’t understand the policy to begin with. His mental health prohibitions, for example, are unenforceable and pointless.

  7. So neither logic nor reason inform the right-wing position on gay rights? Cool.

    Also, I don’t see a specific proposal for a ban on sales to the mentally ill. Do you? It’s a fine idea, though, and enforceability would depend on drafting.

    1. The position of states that 21 is a safe drinking age but 20 is not also defies logic. Arbitrary decisions are made in this country every day.

      He references stopping the mentally ill from getting guns which is both impossible to legislate and impossible to implement. So right out of the gate we see a bad proposal and he hasn’t even gotten into the weeds. Your support for said bad proposal demonstrates that the Right does not have an informed negotiating partner on this issue.

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