The much anticipated Obama press conference contained his usual lecturing and hectoring style, combined with initiatives that are at once entirely predictable, utterly useless, violations of the Constitution and medical ethics and boundaries, and even some that are inexplicable. And in classic Obama style, he used little children–in an appropriate mix of ethnicities and gender, of course–as props. What a small, insubstantial man we’ve twice elected as President.
I was somewhat surprised that President Obama did not, in a more obviously in-your-face manner push far past the limits of executive authority. I am tempted to think that credible threats of impeachment proceedings and what could be interpreted as Republicans actually thinking about acting against illegal presidential power grabs might have tempered Mr. Obama’s thinking, but that would require him to actually recognize limits on his authority while simultaneously requiring him to temper his arrogance and narcissism, which seems most unlikely.
I suspect Mr. Obama simply plans to continue under-the-radar action to undermine the Second Amendment. This is one issue Progressives cannot let go. No matter the restrictions on liberty they are able to impose, they will never be satisfied.
The big three anti-gun hopes: an “assault weapon” ban, limiting the capacity of magazines to 10 rounds, and “universal” background checks, for the moment, seem unlikely to become law, however it would be wise indeed for readers to continue to express their views–politely but firmly–to their representatives. An “assault weapon” ban is the least likely of the three, but many Democrats and at least some squishy Republicans will be tempted by the other two, and political winds change quickly and unexpectedly. This matter will not be quickly resolved.
Let’s explore some of the other anti-freedom proposals, including those Mr. Obama is pushing via executive order, to try to get some idea what is actually going on. I’ll be using the White House’s “Gun Violence Fact Sheet” (as with “assault weapons,” there is no such thing as “gun violence”) as the source for Obama policies.
(1) “Universal Background Checks.” Federal law already requires complete FBI background checks on everyone who purchases a firearm through a dealer. There are no loopholes, gun show or otherwise. This provision is not at all about controlling crime, but about giving the federal government authority to control the transfer of every firearm between citizens, including family members. Progressives want to make it illegal for a father to give his son a firearm for any reason without federal approval. There are already voluminous laws that deal with people illegally selling guns in any and every reasonable way. All this can do is to inconvenience the law-abiding–always a Progressive goal where firearms are concerned–while having no effect whatever on crime.
Mr. Obama is also requiring the BATF to send a letter to dealers “giving them guidance on how best to facilitate these checks.” Dealers already know how to run background checks. This is heavy-handed extra-legal intimidation, a practice well known to the BATF.
Another proposal reads: “Improve incentives for states to share information with the background check system.” Again, this is intimidation. The Federal government has no authority to require the states to do anything. That’s Federalism, another facet of our representative republic–like the Constitution–Progressives find annoying and inconvenient.
(2) “Finish the job of getting armor-piercing bullets off the street.” This is inexplicable. True AP ammunition has been restricted only to the military and police for decades. It’s hard to know if the Obama Administration is merely uninformed, or whether something else is going on here. Progressives have, for decades, tried to ban common rifle ammunition by proclaiming it “armor -piercing,” but such attempts have thus far failed.
(3) “Create serious punishments for gun trafficking.” The Obamites claim there is no law against “straw purchases.” This would be a surprise to those convicted of federal felonies for doing just that. This was, in fact, one of the problems with Fast And Furious. Dealers were told by the BATF to ignore straw purchases they desperately wanted to report that allowed thousands of guns to be delivered to Mexican drug cartels. If there are laws against straw purchases, why did the BATF have to tell dealers to ignore those laws?
(4) “Take executive action to enhance tracing data.” This is simply nonsense. The suggestion that tracing a gun from manufacturer to dealer to first purchaser will help solve crimes is remarkably ignorant, even for the Obama Administration. Crimes involving firearms are virtually never solved this way. The fact that Joe Smith bought a gun 12 years ago does not prove, in any way, that Joe Smith used it to commit a crime. Virtually all such crimes are solved by cops actually talking to people.
(5) “Take executive action to help law enforcement avoid returning guns to the wrong hands.” The suggestion is that the police have no way to conduct background checks on people to whom they return guns. This is nonsense on stilts; it’s completely false. Mr. Obama has no authority to require local or state police forces to do anything anyway.
(6) “Eliminate restrictions that force the ATF to authorize importation of dangerous weapons simply because of their age.” A quote: “But today, firearms manufactured more than 50 years ago include large numbers of semiautomatic military-surplus rifles, some of which are easily convertible into machine guns or otherwise appealing for use in crime.” Right. Weapons like the M1 Garand or the M1 carbine, which are not “easily convertible,” nor are they appealing to criminals, or virtually ever used in crimes (few rifles ever are). This is simply another gun banning scheme of surplus firearms that are something of collector’s items.
(7) “Analyze information on lost and stolen guns and make it widely available to law enforcement.” Good idea. We’d all like answers about Fast and Furious too.
(8) “Provide effective training for active shooter situations for 14,000 law enforcement officers, first responders, and school officials.” Right. “Run, hide, lots of gun free school zone signs, and no guns to protect students or teachers, ever.” Thanks Mr. Federal trainer. Can I have my tax money back now?
(9) “END THE FREEZE ON GUN VIOLENCE RESEARCH: There are approximately 30,000 firearm-related homicides and suicides a year, a number large enough to make clear this is a public health crisis. But for years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies have been barred by Congress from using funds to ‘advocate or promote gun control,’ and some members of Congress have claimed this prohibition also bans the CDC from conducting and research on the causes of gun violence. However, research on gun violence is not advocacy; it is critical public health research that gives all Americans information they need.”
The prohibition has been in place for years because of egregious abuse of science in the pursuit of anti-gun goals by federal agencies at the behest of past Democrat administrations. This is not a matter of public health. A murder or other crime, whether accomplished with a gun, a knife or a baseball bat is not a disease, nor is it catching. This is one prohibition that absolutely should not be lifted. If a CDC researcher wants to be a gun banner, there are organizations that might hire them. If they’re actually interested in medicine, there is plenty for them to do to actually advance public health on the public dime.
(10) “Protect the rights of health care providers to talk to their patients about gun safety.” There is no such “right.” Doctors who ask patients about gun ownership are committing a boundary violation. It is simply not their business and has nothing to do with the health of a patient. Doctors who do this should be reported to state medical boards. It is surely not the business of the federal government.
(11) “ENCOURAGE GUN OWNERS TO LIVE UP TO THEIR RESPONSIBILITY TO STORE GUNS SAFELY.” This section envisions spending millions–perhaps billions–unnecessarily to establish programs that will certainly be nothing more than anti-gun propaganda. The NRA has been supporting truly effective gun safety programs, at no cost to the public, for more than a century, and with great success. Firearm accidents are at historic lows even with firearm ownership at historic highs.
“Encourage the development of innovative gun safety technology.” This section–though it dances around the truth without ever saying it–is about one thing: “Smart” guns. In the past, gun banners have tried to limit firearm sales to only those weapons equipped with so-called “smart” technology that would allow only one person to fire a gun. The trick is that there is no such reliable, affordable technology, which is not a bar for gun banners. Why not limit people to buying only non-existent guns?
While I’ve kept track of the various smart gun technologies that have been tried and uniformly abandoned over the years, I am unaware of any current, promising technology. James Bond’s palm print reading Walter PPK in “Skyfall” was merely a prop and a plot device: in one scene, he was handling the gun wearing gloves, which would render any palm reader useless. No such reliable technology exists, and with firearms, a gun that will not fire every time the trigger is pulled is useless, which gun banners tend to see as a feature, not a bug.
Gun banners often tout technologies like micro stamping but they invariably turn out to be not only ineffective and prohibitively expensive, but accomplish nothing for law enforcement or safety. This is an area worthy of close and continuing scrutiny.
(12) “MAKING SCHOOLS SAFER.” This section is rife with federal spending and intrusion into local schools and decision-making. It is loaded with ideas that should give any rational person pause. In its introduction, speaking about school resource officers (cops in schools), is this worrying sentence: “When equipped with proper training and supported by evidence-based school discipline policies…” This no doubt refers to the federalization of school discipline I addressed in a recent PJ Media article. This would not only not be helpful, but would all but eliminate effective discipline in the schools.
“Put up to 1000 new school resource officer and school counselors on the job.” This implies a sort of acceptance of the NRA’s proposal to put armed security in every school. However, there are more than 100,000 schools in America, and if we simply did away with gun free school zones and allowed teachers to carry concealed weapons, the problem is solved without spending public funds.
The proposal’s ideas about “comprehensive emergency plans” are full of federal involvement, control and one-size fits all “solutions,” and of course, the expenditure of huge sums of money. Such PC speak as “create safer and more nurturing school climates” and “share best practices on school discipline” are code words for the mandatory implementation of Progressive social engineering.
Example: “Students who are suspended or expelled are far more likely to repeat a grade, not graduate, or become involved in the juvenile justice system.” As I note in my PJ Media article, this kind of thinking blames schools for disciplining students, not students for causing schools to impose discipline. The Federal “solution” has nothing to do with actual, effective discipline, but with preventing schools from actually applying it, particularly in the case of favored “victim” groups.
(13) “Improving Mental Health Services:” This section, like the rest, is loaded with federal spending, intrusion and implied mandates, and what appear to be massive expansions of federal spending via ObamaCare. One of the most bizarre proposals is for somehow “supporting” young people up to age 25 for mental health problems. The proposal doesn’t explain how such “support” will be done or who will pay for it.
While stopping short of highly specific mandates, the language would lead one to believe the government intends to “identify mental health issues early and help individuals get the treatment they need before these dangerous situations develop.” This may sound innocuous, but Americans have always been suspicious of governmental abuse of mental health diagnosis and treatment. Such government intrusion always has the potential to discourage people from seeking mental health treatment. These proposals do nothing to lessen reasonable suspicions about governmental involvement.
I have not discussed every part of the White House proposal, just some of the more obvious matters. As federal agencies expand on these matters and develop rules, regulations and programs, I’m certain I’ll have to revisit them. We may–time will tell–have dodged a few bullets in this situation, but it is far too early for anyone to let their guard down. When additional mass shootings occur–and they will–we can expect redoubled effort on the part of those who would diminish liberty. They never rest and never abandon their anti-freedom goals.
I expect the current shortages of firearms, magazines, and ammunition to abate somewhat, but it will be a long time before Americans trust their government enough to see gun store shelves stocked as we have become accustomed to seeing them, even in the lean past few years, which is probably a good thing–a healthy distrust of government, not a lack of firearms and ammunition–for many reasons.
In any case, this will surely not be my final article on this and related topics. This particular battle is far from over and the war for liberty never ends.