Jumping the Gun
In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre, it's no surprise that politicians and special interest groups would start talking about new gun control laws. The same thing happened after the infamous Columbine, Colorado school shootings (it should be noted that the much-vaunted assault weapons ban was still in place at that time); the Virginia Tech attack (which, up until Sandy Hook, was the deadliest in history); and what had originally been just a simple congressional "meet and greet" in Tucson, Arizona (Rep. Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head, but survived for her and her husband to become the heirs apparent to Jim and Sarah Brady, an activist pair who are perhaps more famous for their anti-gun crusade even than the fact Mr. Brady was shot as "collateral damage" when an assassination attempt was made on President Ronald Reagan).
Sure enough, as newly minted Texas Senator Ted Cruz notes, politicians began exploiting the Sandy Hook tragedy quite literally within minutes in an attempt to gather political capital from certain elements of the population. Their efforts were substantially aided and abetted by the non-stop and genuinely horrifying media coverage that accompanies such tragedy. President Barack Obama took to the airwaves himself to express his shock and sadness and, of course, to use the Connecticut carnage to suggest the country needs to take another look at gun control.
In short order, the President appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head up a "task force" to look into Sandy Hook and other firearms-related tragedies and formulate a list of steps the government might take to prevent anything similar from occurring in the future (more on the task force in a moment). The "usual suspects" in Congress had anti-gun legislation ready for submission so quickly that it was obvious it was already written and the authors just waiting for a tragedy to exploit. Among them was California Senator (and noted hypocrite) Diane Feinstein.
Senator Feinstein, who was instrumental in crafting the assault weapons ban in force from 1994 to 2004, has now put together a bill that goes well above and beyond that first ban which was permitted to sunset after ten years. The National Rifle Association's Institute for Legislative Action was quick to oppose the legislation, and for good reason: Should Feinstein have her way, most modern firearms will suddenly become illegal, and others could be made so based on the whim of an extraordinarily anti-gun Attorney General.
Meanwhile, Feinstein herself held a concealed carry permit when they were all but impossible to get in her native state because, she has said, she felt she needed to arm herself for protection. I don't argue the point, but I do wonder why the Senator seems to think she's a better or more valuable human being than those she would deny that same capability! That's especially egregious when Senator Feinstein has security surrounding her while the rest of us are on our own. You can hope and pray that law enforcement arrives in time, but like the bumper sticker says, "When seconds count, the police are minutes away." It's also noteworthy that the courts have repeatedly ruled that police are not legally liable to protect you.
The vociferously anti-gun Rep. Carolyn McCarthy of New York has several bills she'd like considered in the House; all would curb Second Amendment rights. In fact, as one news sources puts it: Feinstein Gun Ban Just Tip of Iceberg. Indeed! But as I pointed out earlier, most of these bills were just on hold until the right crisis came along.
In November of 2009, then Obama Chief-of-Staff Rahm Emanuel famously said, ""Never let a serious crisis go to waste. What I mean by that is it's an opportunity to do things you couldn't do before." It's obvious that there are those who have taken Emanuel's words to heart and are running full speed ahead to do "things you couldn't do before."
I find it interesting to note that one of the Founding Fathers had something to say about crises, too. James Madison noted that, "Crisis is the rallying cry of the tyrant." Madison, often known as the Father of the Constitution, knew; sadly, I suspect that Rahm Emanuel, Diane Feinstein, and Barack Obama know, too. But that's not going to stop them! And neither are the facts.
As Vice President Biden's task force considers what advice to give the President, they've been inviting everyone from gun control advocates to video game manufacturers, and from the NRA to movie-makers from Hollywood. They're blaming guns, bullets, violent video games, and bloodshed in movies. Mostly, of course, they're blaming guns. The representative from the NRA released a statement following his appearance before the committee expressing his disappointment in the process and saying he felt as though he was invited only so the committee can say he was invited. According to him, the focus of the committee is on guns, guns, and guns.
Never mind that the facts related to school gun violence don't support the idea of gun bans, nor do they suggest that such violence is common. In fact, the Department of Justice itself has been unable to show that an assault weapons ban was effective when it was in force, or that it would be any more effective should it be restored. The administration is so determined to do something—anything, even if it's the wrong thing—that the Vice President says the President is considering his options for at least some actions via Executive Order. If the president were to take such action, it would unquestionably be unconstitutional. But just as the facts seem to have no bearing here, nor does illegality.
If you look rationally rather than viscerally at the nightmares that are such massacres, you'll note that they all have something in common. Yes, the perpetrators all used firearms. But far more important from the standpoint of prevention is the fact that all of the perpetrators were crazy (I know that's not the proper medical terminology, but it also happens to be the truth).
Some of them had mental health issues that were known prior to their actions; some seemed threatening only in hindsight. But in each instance, had the problems been diagnosed and treated—or if untreatable, the sufferer restrained—none of the innocents in Sandy Hook would have died. The movie-goers in Aurora, Colorado would just have enjoyed the show. Citizens would have had a brief moment to speak face to face with their Arizona Congresswoman. And Barack Obama wouldn't have the crisis he's so determined not to waste.
It's readily apparent that the Obama administration is singularly unfriendly to the Constitution in general, and the Second Amendment in specific. Barack Obama is on record as being supportive of numerous firearms restrictions, and his recent statements show that those views have, if anything, intensified. The Attorney General, sad to say, is even more dangerous to liberty. Eric Holder has said that gun owners should be ashamed, and that they should "cower" like smokers (apparently he doesn't like smokers much, either, which had to have been amusing for all concerned up until the time his boss finally quit). Holder has even suggested that people be "brainwashed" to turn them against firearms!
In fairness, Biden's committee has mentioned mental health matters a couple of times. But from the news that's come out of the task force to date, the NRA representative is right: The focus is on guns. As a result, any action that's taken will do nothing but punish law abiding gun owners for things they didn't, and would never, do. Further, the problem of violent outbursts by men (or women) who are in some way mentally disturbed won't receive the priority it deserves. That's a lose/lose for the vast majority of us. So what's the point? Who wins?
The obvious answer is that the government does. It gets more power when the power it does have is all but impossible to oppose. But that's the dramatic worst case scenario. Yes, Hitler and Stalin had gun control in their favor when they were able to exterminate millions. But I feel confident that Australia isn't suffering a genocidal government right now, yet strict gun control there hasn't proved all that beneficial for the law-abiding citizens in that country! History shows us, and current events bear out, the many failures of gun control.
Are there answers to the problem of gun violence? Yes. Are they easy or simple? Not even close. But there are two certainties here. One is that gun control isn't the answer. The other is that the Obama administration will do all that it can to ensure that the non-answer is the one that's moved forward. It will undermine the safety of countless Americans, aid and abet the nefarious deeds of numerous criminals, and attempt to consolidate still more federal authority unto itself. It will continue to shred the Constitution without forethought or remorse. The only solution to that problem is us. So now there's one last question. Will you answer it? Or, like Nazi Germany's Pastor Martin Niemöller, will you be silent and acquiesce until it's too late?