Obama’s ‘common-sense’ gun plan—and the too-common response

Barack Obama’s White House announcement of executive actions over sale and possession of guns inspired tears. And gun sales. And partisan ire.

U.S. President Barack Obama announces steps the administration is taking to reduce gun violence while delivering a statement in the East Room of the White House in Washington January 5, 2016. Obama said the  gun control measures were well within his authority to implement without congressional approval. Vice-President Joe Biden is at right. Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

U.S. President Barack Obama announces steps the administration is taking to reduce gun violence while delivering a statement in the East Room of the White House in Washington January 5, 2016. Obama said the gun control measures were well within his authority to implement without congressional approval. (Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)

WASHINGTON — Weeping in unashamed public anguish for the youngest victims of his country’s intractable machine-gun mania, U.S. President Barack Obama claimed—for at least the 21st time—the executive authority to institute “common-sense” new restrictions on the sale and possession of firearms Tuesday, yet another attempt to bypass a trigger-happy Congress that even Obama admitted has almost no chance to succeed.

The President’s words fell upon a gallery of unutterable grief at the White House: family members of innocent citizens who were killed in wholesale massacres and intimate murders both infamous and barely noticed. They included the parents of several of the 20 Grade 1 pupils who were slaughtered in their classrooms by a heavily armed Connecticut madman; the families of university students, Sikh and Christian worshippers who were mowed down by rifle fire within their own unfortified sanctuaries, and the kinfolk of individuals who were slain without warning or mercy at drive-throughs and parking lots and shopping centres across a nation where more than 30,000 people a year perish at the wrong end of a gun.

Watch: Barack Obama’s remarks on gun violence

Obama cited manifold advocates of “common-sense” gun control that included the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., senators of both political parties, president Ronald Reagan, and even his own Texan predecessor, George W. Bush, noting that Bush once announced his own support for “background checks at gun shows or anywhere to make sure that guns don’t get into the hands of people that shouldn’t have them.”

“I’m not on the ballot again,” the sitting—though increasingly lame-duck—President said in the gold-panelled East Room, where the bullet-broken body of the assassinated Abraham Lincoln once lay in state. “I’m not looking to score some points. I think we can disagree without impugning other people’s motives or without being disagreeable. We don’t need to be talking past one another. But we do have to feel a sense of urgency about it. In Dr. King’s words, we need to feel the ‘fierce urgency of now.’ Because people are dying. And the constant excuses for inaction no longer do, no longer suffice.”

On Wall Street, stock in gun manufacturer Smith & Wesson rose 11 per cent in Tuesday trading. The company’s shares have nearly tripled in value in the past 12 months.

Reaction from Republicans was immediate and even anticipatory. Hours before Obama spoke, Jeb Bush, the former president’s brother and a (currently) bottom-tier candidate for the Republican nomination to replace Obama 54 weeks hence, lambasted the expected initiatives as “an utter disregard for the Second Amendment.” This, of course, is the clause in the nation’s 225-year-old Bill of Rights that protected—and still protects—any man’s right to stalk a squirrel or wield a musket against a re-imposition of tyranny from the Throne.

“Barack Obama has proved again why he will go down as one of the most liberal and divisive presidents in the history of our nation,” candidate Bush said. “Liberals like Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton seize on every opportunity to advance a gun-grabbing agenda.”

“Obama is obsessed with undermining the Second Amendment,” said Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, another presidential hopeful. (There was no immediate comment from @RealDonaldTrump.)

On Tuesday, Obama outlined three specific areas for executive action.

“Number one,” he said to applause, “anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a licence and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions. It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it over the Internet or at a gun show. It’s not where you do it, but what you do.”

The President also announced his intention to hire 200 more federal agents to enforce existing firearms regulations, and called for an increased emphasis on mental health screening and record-sharing as part of the licensing process.

“I’ve said this over and over again . . . I believe in the Second Amendment,” Obama stated. “It’s there written on the paper. It guarantees a right to bear arms. No matter how many times people try to twist my words around: I taught constitutional law, I know a little about this, I get it. But I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.

“The gun lobby may be holding Congress hostage right now, but they cannot hold America hostage. We do not have to accept this carnage as the price of freedom.”

Obama’s tears barely had dried before an executive of the National Rifle Association declared, “The American people do not need more emotional, condescending lectures that are completely devoid of facts.”

Congressional Republicans weren’t any more conciliatory. The chairman of the House judiciary committee said Tuesday that his members will “closely monitor the administration’s actions and consider whether legislation is needed to further protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”

And the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, charged, “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.”

“Yes, it will be hard, and it won’t happen overnight,” Obama acknowledged. “It won’t happen during this Congress. It won’t happen during my presidency. But a lot of things don’t happen overnight.”


Obama’s ‘common-sense’ gun plan—and the too-common response

  1. And while not surprised, I am outraged that the American folks have been misled on the real meaning of the constitution which was that Americans could be formed up into state militias and “bear arms.” That distortion has been brought about by organizations such as the National Rifle Association as well as the frontier ethic in the West.

    • HOT DAMN Blacktop, you’re right, and I agree with you totally.

      • HOT DAMN Em, I never thought I’d see the day.

  2. Sadly the constitution was written at a time when a future where guns would be a detriment if carried by every individual was beyond the imagination of those who composed the document. If they had foresight, they would have left any talk of bearing arms completely out of the document but for some reason, they felt as strongly about their right to arm themselves as they did about their right to free speech. The thing I find unfathomable is that they found the right to arm themselves more important than they found the notion that all humans are equal. That is something they still struggle with.

  3. Yes Indeed.. Considering that it wasn’t unusual for troops to search out those who might come up against them (in almost any jurisdiction) it is not surprising. But I think it was more a ‘states rights’ issue in the beginning – the ability of state militias to bear arms (fear of the Hamiltonian central government which was an issue at the times (between those like Hamilton who favoured a strong central government and those. among whom were libertarians such as Jefferson, who wanted a weak central government in favour of strong states rights. Of course, when in power as President Jefferson temporarily parked this strong opinion. .

  4. Taking crying lession from PM Buttercup.

  5. Typical Obama. Most of America’s gun violence takes place in the ten cities that share one common trait- They have been governed by Democrats for the last 50 years, using a a consistent model of how Democrats think people should be governed.
    This new executive action ignores certain realities. Firstly, the POTUS and his cheerleaders don’t want to accept that it is the duty of Congress to act as a check on the White House. Just because the POTUS isn’t getting his way doesn’t mean that the POTUS gets to sidestep Congress. Executive action is the direct opposite of what the founding fathers were striving for when they created a three-headed government (Congress/The Presidency/Supreme Court).
    Then there is the fact that what gun violence does occur is so far removed from the legal sale of guns that it’s laughable. The Obama admin. has for its’ duration refused to help law enforcement in Democrat strongholds deal with gun lawlessness. There have been no stepped up efforts to prosecute known felons when found in possession of firearms illegally. People in Chicago or Detroit or Atlanta or Baltimore will readily tell you that, in any given week, someone who is specifically enjoined by law from possessing a gun has come in contact with police and not been prosecuted for the firearm in their possession and subsequently shot or killed someone. Conversely, where there has been stepped up prosecution of unlawful firearms possession, a certain Democratic demographic then complains about racial profiling and unfair policing.
    You can take all the steps you want to curb gun violence, but unless you’re taking on the social problems at the root of it, you’re pissing into the wind. Half of all the murders in the USA were committed by black males who comprise 6% of the population, so it’s hard to imagine making it harder for white people to buy guns is anything more than Obama and his supporters working out their own racist tendencies. You know, those bad white folks and all. They are ignoring the reality that the guns that killed 38 people in Chicago last week weren’t bought at gun shows.
    Those black people doing all the killing, are also the victims of decades of Democrat social engineering. If you took the top 10 “Murder Town USA” list, and removed them from American crime stats, you would find that the murder and gun violence rate in the USA is indistinguishable from many countries, including ours. You would also find that those cities have one other thing in common; They have all been governed as Democrat experiments for 50 and 60 years. They are the poster children of high taxes and big government and the welfare state. The worst neighborhoods in the USA for gun violence are the poster children of Democrat public policy.
    Just like Canadian observers knew that our gun laws up here were aimed not at curbing gun violence, but making a certain demographic feel as though we were by attacking lawful gun ownership, Obozo is cynically attacking largely Republican lawful gun buyers and selling it as an attack on gun violence.

    • A further thought- How many people here are aware that, in Chicago, more black people have been murdered by other blacks in the last 20 years than were lynched in the United States in the 100 years after the Civil War.

      • Actually, Bill,

        Blacks are the main victims of, and cause of murder in the United states; for both black and white victims.

    • States with the highest gun murder rates (gun murders per 100,000) and the political affiliation of the Governor:
      Louisiana 7.7 (Republican)
      Missouri 5.4 (Democrat)
      Maryland 5.4 (Republican)
      South Carolina 4.5 (Republican)
      Michigan 4.2 (Republican)
      Delaware 4.2 (Democrat)
      Mississippi 4.0 (Republican)
      Florida 3.9 (Republican)
      Georgia 3.8 (Republican)
      Arizona 3.6 (Republican)

      8 of 10 are Republicans. There isn’t a concise Wikipedia article that breaks murders down to the city level, but Memphis, Tennessee has the 5th highest gun murder rate and their mayor is an independent.

      You are not allowed to make up BS and pass them off as facts.

      • Note, the links are for American crime stats, and there is a lot of variation. In general, the statistics are taken from the department of Justice and do show that blacks commit a disproportionate amount of crime; particularly violent crime. they also make up the major proportion of victims.

        what they don’t show however, is that blacks also make up a disproprotionate number of those living in poverty and neglect.

        Until they come up with stats based on family integrity, income, and upbringing, there is more a correlation between poverty and crime, as opposed to skin colour and crime.

        but I think in general it’s pretty much a given that kids raised by a two-parent middle class family aren’t generally involved in violent crime.

    • A slight variation of the “statistics aren’t fair, we have this ‘urban underclass’ (or insert whatever euphemism here) that no one else has.” As if the rest of the world doesn’t have its rough areas. If the US gets to drop Detroit and Baltimore from the equation, we get to drop North Winnipeg and Prince George.

      And do you have any examples of this Democrat mayor-led social engineering?

  6. the changes Obama wants to make are just common sense. No one should be allowed to own a gun until we know that that are not a danger to anyone else, or to themselves.

    It isn’t a slippery slope simply to make sure that some nutcase doesn’t get his hands on an AR-15.

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