Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thoughts on Obama Gun Control Speech

Earlier today, President Obama announced 23 executive actions he is taking, and additional steps he is pressing Congress to take, in response to the Sandy Hook tragedy.  Not surprisingly, they are all largely focused on guns.

Below is a transcript of his speech (in italics), with my thoughts.

Good afternoon, everybody.  Let me begin by thanking our vice president, Joe Biden, for your dedication, Joe, to this issue, for bringing so many different voices to the table, because while reducing gun violence is a complicated challenge, protecting our children from harm shouldn't be a divisive one.

Now, over the month since the tragedy in Newtown, we've heard from so many.  And obviously, none have affected us more than the families of those gorgeous children and their teachers and guardians who were lost.  And so we're grateful to all of you for taking the time to be here and recognizing that we honor their memories in part by doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again.

But we also heard from some unexpected people, in particular I started getting a lot of letters from kids. Four of them are here today, Grant Fritz, Julia Stokes, Hinna Zeha, and Taejah Goode.  They're pretty representative of some of the messages I got.  These are some pretty smart letters from some pretty smart young people.  Hinna, a third-grader -- you can go ahead and wave Hinna, that's you.  Hinna wrote, ``I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children.  I love my country, and I want everybody to be happy, and safe.''
Mr. President, do you really believe that these 3rd graders decided to write you letters all on their own, with opinions they crafted of their own free will, without any prodding or coaching by their teachers and/or parents?  Or are you shamelessly using these children as props to further your political agenda?
And then Grant, go ahead and wave Grant, Grant said, ``I think there should be some changes.  We should learn from what happened at Sandy Hook.  I feel really bad.''  And then Julia said -- Julia, where are you?  There you go.  ``I'm not scared for my safety, I'm scared for others.  I have four brothers and sisters, and I know I would not be able to bear the thought of losing any of them.''  And these are our kids.  This is what they're thinking about. 

And so what we should be thinking about, is our responsibility to care for them, and shield them from harm, and give them the tools they need to grow up, and do everything that they're capable of doing.  Not just to pursue their own dreams, but to help build this country.  This is our first task as a society, keeping our children safe.  This is how we will be judged.  And their voices should compel us to change.
If you believe our first task as a society is to keep our children safe, how exactly does cheerleading abortion while ensuring tax dollars fund the killing of children every day square with that belief?  How does robbing our children of their future - by saddling them with tens of thousands of dollars in debt before they are even born - square with your statement about our first task as a society?
And that's why last month, I asked Joe to lead an effort, along with members of my cabinet, to come up with some concrete steps we can take right now to keep our children safe, to help prevent mass shootings, to reduce the broader epidemic of gun violence in this country.
Gee whiz, Mr. President, it sure seems that these "concrete steps" your vice president came up with will only affect law-abiding citizens.  You know, those folks that pose no danger to children, and don't perpetrate mass shootings, and aren't part of this "epedemic of gun violence" you are speaking of.  I know you want to be clear, so please help us understand how they will prevent mass shootings and reduce gun violence.
And we can't put this off any longer. 
Of course we can't.  We can't let this "crisis" go to waste, can we, Mr. President?  That was the advice from your former chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, who ironically now presides over the city with the most gun violence in the country.
Just last Thursday, as TV networks were covering one of  Joe's meetings on this topic, news broke of another school shooting, this one in California. In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary, more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun -- 900 in the past month.  And every day we wait the number will keep growing.
So, Mr. President, how many of those 900 shooters would have been stopped if this package of gun restrictions had already been in place? (Zero.)  How many of those 900 shooters are law-abiding citizens...the only ones affected by your proposals? (Whoops! None.)  How many of these 900 shootings occurred in Chicago, where you were a rockstar community organizer and where they have some of the toughest gun laws in the nation, but the highest murder rate?  (Most of them.)
So I'm putting forward a specific set of proposals based on the work of Joe's task force.  And in the days ahead I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality. 

Because while there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there's even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there's even one life that can be saved, then we've got an obligation to try.
Freedom and liberty for innocent, law-abiding citizens be damned, right Mr. President?  There are countless, more effective ways to go about "reducing the violence", but those things don't jibe with your political, anti-gun agenda, do they?
 And I'm gonna do my part.  As soon as I'm finished speaking here I will sit at that desk and I will sign a directive giving law enforcement, schools, mental health professionals and the public health community some of the tools they need to help reduce gun violence.

We will make it easier to keep guns out of the hands of criminals by strengthening the background check system.  We will help schools hire more resource officers if they want them, and develop emergency preparedness plans.  
What if some schools don't want more resource officers, Mr. President?  Wouldn't they be putting children in danger by rejecting your "wisdom"?  Will they be punished if they don't accept this "help"?  After all, you are punishing every single American today by urging Congress to infringe on our right to keep and bear arms. 
We will make sure mental health professionals know their options for reporting threats of violence, even as we acknowledge that someone with a mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than the perpetrator.
Mr. President, everyone that has ever gone on a killing spree is mentally ill.  Sane people don't shoot up schools.  Most Americans are beginning to think you are suffering from mental illness as well, because that last statement of yours was effectively excusing the actions of the mentally defective young man that killed all those kids.
 And while year after year, those who oppose even modest gun safety measures have threatened to de-fund scientific or medical research into the causes of gun violence, I will direct the Centers for Disease Control to go ahead and study the best ways to reduce it. And Congress should fund research into the effects that violent video games have on young minds.

We don't benefit from ignorance.  We don't benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence. 
Frankly, Mr. President, it doesn't take a scientist or a million-dollar study to understand that law-abiding gun owners don't massacre children.  It doesn't take a doctor to know that criminals and psychos don't care about laws, don't think twice about murdering others, and will not be fazed by all of this silliness you are announcing today.  Furthermore, it seems that you DO benefit from ignorance, seeing as how you were recently re-elected by hordes of ignorant Americans.
These are a few of the 23 executive actions that I'm announcing today, but as important as these steps are, they are in no way a substitute for action from members of Congress.  To make a real and lasting difference, Congress, too, must act, and Congress must act soon.  And I'm calling on Congress to pass some very specific proposals right away. First, it's time for Congress to require a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.

The law already requires licensed gun dealers to run background checks, and over the last 14 years that's kept 1.5 million of the wrong people from getting their hands on a gun.

But it's hard to enforce that law, when as many as 40 percent of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check.
I applaud this step, Mr. President.  But whoever told you that 40% of all gun purchases are conducted without a background check is lying to you.  Gun shows have no loopholes allowing the sale of firearms without a background check, and I'm quite certain that 40% of gun sales do not occur between private individuals.  I would recommend hiring staffers that won't make you look as foolish as you did today while regurgitating blatantly dishonest "facts" from your teleprompter.
If you want to buy a gun, whether it's from a licensed dealer, or a private seller, you should at least have to show you are not a felon or somebody legally prohibited from buying one.  This is common sense. And an overwhelming majority of Americans agree with us on the need for universal background checks, including more than 70 percent of the National Rifle Association's members according to one survey.  So there's no reason we can't do this.
Again, background checks are fine and dandy, Mr. President.  I'll be interested in hearing how your administration or Congress proposes that individual private citizens conduct background checks on people that want to buy a gun from them - or how you plan to prove that background checks have or have not been completed prior to a private individual sale.  I suspect this will require some sort of gun registration scheme, which will never become law.  But I wish you and Congress good luck trying to get that going. (LOL!)
Second, Congress should restore a ban on military-style assault weapons, and a 10 round limit for magazines.
Why should Congress do that, Mr. President?  "Military-style assault weapons" owned by law-abiding citizens will never be used to assault anyone.  They will only be used for recreational and sporting purposes, and to defend against criminals - or a tyrannical government, which is the entire purpose of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Did your woefully moronic staffers explain to you that "military-style assault weapons" are deemed such because of mostly cosmetic differences?  Please have them explain to you how one rifle with a pistol grip is more deadly than the very same rifle without a pistol grip, so that you can explain it to the American people. Where magazines are concerned, are you saying it's OK if 10 children are killed, but not OK if 30 are killed?  You do realize, of course, there are literally millions of 30 round (and up) magazines currently in circulation, do you not?  In fact, one company that manufactures these magazines, Magpul, has a backlog of over one million magazines ordered as of this writing.  That's just ONE company, Mr. President.
 The type of assault rifle used in Aurora, for example, when paired with high capacity magazines has one purpose:  to pump out as many bullets as possible as quickly as possible, to do as much damage using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage. 
Actually, Mr. President, the guns to which you refer are fully automatic weapons which are already banned for everyone except law enforcement, the military, and special federal license holders.  But I digress...let's not let facts get in the way of your ideologically-driven spin.
And that's what allowed the gunman in Aurora to shoot 70 people, 70 people, killing 12.  In a matter of minutes.
Almost all handguns fire bullets at exactly the same rate as the guns that you want to ban.  One bullet with every trigger pull.  Why not ban them too, if your motives are pure?  I guess you and your buddies will get around to banning those eventually too...right, Mr. President?
Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. 
Again, Mr. President, guns designed for and used in a theater of war are fully automatic, and already banned. 
A majority of Americans agree with us on this.  And, by the way, so did Ronald Reagan, one of the staunchest defenders of the Second Amendment, who wrote to Congress in 1994, urging them -- this is Ronald Reagan speaking -- urging them to listen to the American public and to the law enforcement community and support a ban on the further manufacture of military-style assault weapons.
Mr. Reagan, while the greatest president in modern times, was not infallible.  He also granted amnesty to millions of illegal aliens, which served as an incentive for even more illegal immigration as we've seen in the years since.
And, finally, Congress needs to help, rather than hinder, law enforcement as it does its job.  We should get tougher on people who buy guns with the expressed purpose of turning around and selling them to criminals.
You mean, like the ATF did during the Fast and Furious operation, where nobody of consequence was held to account after ATF agents helped hundreds of guns get across the border and into the hands of cartel criminals?  Why do you believe that your attorney general and those that report to him should be given preferential legal treatment not afforded to other Americans?  Do you believe the people in your administration are exempt from following the laws the rest of us must follow?
And we should severely punish anybody who helps them do this. 
I couldn't agree more.  When will Attorney General Eric Holder be fired? (He won't.)
Since Congress hasn't confirmed a director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms in six years, they should confirm Todd Jones, who will be -- who has been acting and I will be nominating for the post. And at a time when budget cuts are forcing many communities to reduce their police force, we should put more cops back on the job and back on our streets.

Now, let me be absolutely clear:  Like most Americans, I believe the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms.  I respect our strong tradition of gun ownership and the rights of hunters and sportsmen.  There are millions of responsible, law-abiding gun owners in America who cherish their right to bear arms for hunting or sport or protection or collection.
No, Mr. President, you don't believe in the Second Amendment.  Based on your actions today, you believe that Americans have too much freedom and liberty, and Americans' right to keep and bear arms must be infringed.  What part of "shall not be infringed" do you not understand?  You believe in penalizing law-abiding Americans for the actions of mentally defective psychos.  Not only is that un-American, it's just flat stupid.
I also believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.  I believe most of them agree that if America worked harder to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people, there would be fewer atrocities like the one that occurred in Newtown.

That's what these reforms are designed to do.  They're commonsense measures.  They have the support of the majority of the American people.
Mr. President, with all due respect, please explain the brand of "common sense" you are using when your answer to wackos shooting up schools is to infringe on the rights of innocent, responsible law-abiding citizens.  Please explain how it is "commonsense" to blame inanimate objects. Please tell us how it's "commonsense" to ignore the problem of mentally deranged people receiving inadequate care and supervision.  Neither sane, law-abiding citizens nor guns are the root cause of wackos shooting up schools.  Real "commonsense measures" would focus on the root causes of these tragedies.
And yet that doesn't mean any of this is going to be easy to enact or implement.  If it were, we'd already have universal background checks.  The ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines never would have been allowed to expire.  More of our fellow Americans might still be alive, celebrating birthdays and anniversaries and graduations. 
Of course it's not easy to implement your politically-driven, tyrannical gun-grabbing schemes, Mr. President.  You see, our Founding Fathers foresaw people like you trying to do things like this.  Thankfully, they ensured America is governed in a way that helps prevent tyranny by dividing power among three branches of government. Your actions and aims are tyrannical, and will not pass muster among We the People or among the other two branches.
This will be difficult.  There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical all- out assault on liberty, not because that's true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.  And behind the scenes, they'll do everything they can to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever. 
Another reason all this is so difficult, Mr. President, is because it is obvious to reasonable people that many of the things you want to do will not help to address the problem.  Instead, your aims are misguided and go against the very foundations upon which this nation was formed.  History has shown what happens when governments disarm the people.  From Austria to Britain, from Poland to Russia, it has never turned out well. We do not want to block real commonsense reform when it is effective and necessary. However, we vehemently reject nonsensical, tyrannical political agendas cloaked as "reform" such as the steaming pile of idiocy you were peddling today.
The only way we will be able to change is if their audience, their constituents, their membership says this time must be different, that this time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids.
We agree something must be done. This misguided, ideological "solution" you are peddling will not work, Mr. President. Numerous studies done by people across the entire ideological spectrum showed the same conclusions - the previous assault weapon ban simply didn't work.  At all.  One need look no further than the FBI's Uniform Crime Report to see that crime of all types continued to decline despite gun ownership nearly doubling, after the assault weapon ban expired.
I will put everything I've got into this -- and so will Joe -- but I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it.  And by the way, that doesn't just mean from certain parts of the country.  We're going to need voices in those areas and those congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong to speak up and to say this is important.  It can't just be the usual suspects.  We have to examine ourselves in our hearts, and ask yourselves what is important?  This will not happen, unless the American people demand it.  If parents and teachers, police officers, and pastors, if hunters and sportsman, if responsible gun owners, if Americans of every background stand up and say, enough.  We've suffered too much pain, and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will -- change will come.
That's what it's going to take.  You know, in the letter that Julia wrote me, she said ``I know that laws have to be passed by Congress, but I beg you to try very hard.''
I know that you believe the majority of Americans are ignorant and apathetic, Mr. President.  I don't disagree.  However, I am willing to bet that many apathetic Americans own guns, and won't be so apathetic when it comes to their gun rights.  The majority of American people will not be demanding that the federal government curtail their rights.  It simply won't happen. Incidentally, when did third-graders learn about the functions of the three branches of government, anyway?  (They don' was another coerced letter.)
Julia, I will try very hard.  But she's right.  The most important changes we can make, depend on congressional action.  They need to bring these proposals up for a vote, and the American people need to make sure that they do.  Get them on record.  Ask your member of Congress if they support universal background checks to keep guns out of the wrong hands.  Ask them if they support renewing a ban on military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
And if they say no, ask them why not?  Ask them what's more important?  Doing whatever it takes to get a -- an A grade from the gun lobby that funds their campaigns?  Or, giving parents some piece of mind when they drop their child off to first grade?
Intelligent, rational people know the difference between feeling safe and being safe.  Those who believe in American principles aren't waiting for government to provide for their safety and that of their families.  It might be a feelgood, emotional reaction to ban those scary guns, but reasonable people know that criminals and psychopaths don't give a damn about laws, Mr. President. I'm confident that many, many politicians, citizens and others will proudly stand up and go on record against your proposed usurpation of our rights, freedoms, and responsibilities to protect ourselves and our families with whatever tools we see fit.
This is the land of the free, and it always will be.  As Americans we are endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights that no man or government can take away from us.  But...
No, Mr. President, there is no "but" at the end of that statement.  Ever.
...we've also long recognized, as our founders recognized, that with rights come responsibilities.
Along with our freedom to live our lives as we will comes an obligation to allow others to do the same.   We don't live in isolation.  We live in a society, a government for and by the people. We are responsible for each other.
So, in other words, you don't believe the American people are responsible enough to keep and bear certain types of guns...but we are responsible enough to keep and bear others?  No matter the model or the features, Mr. President, all guns are inanimate objects and do not wreak havoc by themselves.  Law-abiding Americans could possess missiles, tanks, and fighter jets, and society would be no less safe than it is today.
We have the right to worship freely and safely; that right was denied to Sikhs in Oak Creek, Wisconsin.  The right to assemble peacefully; that right was denied shoppers in Placimus, Oregon, and moviegoers in Aurora, Colorado.
That most fundamental set of rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, fundamental rights that were denied to college students at Virginia Tech and high school students at Columbine and elementary school students in Newtown; and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent basis to tolerate; and all the families who never imagined they'd lose a loved one to -- to a bullet, those rights are at stake.  We're responsible.
Yes, we are responsible, Mr. President.  Not "we" as in the government, but "we" as in We the People.  We have allowed our society to degrade and decay to a point that personal responsibility is a novel concept while relying on somebody else, mainly government, to tell us what is right and wrong, what we need, and how to live has become normal.  We the People need to reverse this trend and take more responsibility for ourselves, our children, and our safety.  We cannot ignore mental illness and hope it goes away on its own.  Those of us with guns can't be lackadaisical with their security so that they fall into the wrong hands.  That is not your responsibility as is ours, and ours alone.  With all due respect, you need to study the Constitution and rethink government's role in our great nation.  It has expanded far beyond the limits our forefathers set for it, and for America to be great again, your government needs to shrink back into the shadows and let We the People manage our own affairs.
You know, when I visited Newtown last month I spent some private time with many of the families who'd lost their children that day. And one was the family of Grace McDonnell. Grace's parents are here.  Grace was seven years old when she was struck down, just a gorgeous, caring, joyful little girl. I'm told she loved pink.  She loved the beach.  She dreamed of becoming a painter.
And so just before I left, Chris, her father, gave me one of her paintings.  And I hung it in my private study just off the Oval Office.  And every time I look at that painting, I think about Grace, and I think about the life that she lived and the life that lay ahead of her.  And most of all, I think about how when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable among us, we must act now, for Grace, for the 25 other innocent children and devoted educators who had so much left to give; for the men and women in big cities and small towns who fall victims to senseless violence each and every day; for all the Americans who are counting on us to keep them safe from harm.
Let's do the right thing.  Let's do the right thing for them and for this country that we love so much.
I really want to believe that your motives are pure and you really do believe you're doing the right thing in responding to the Sandy Hook tragedy, and those tragedies that came before it.  Unfortunately, the chasm between your approach and one that makes sense to me and millions of others of the same mindset is so wide that it's impossible not to suspect darker, ulterior motives that require the squelching and oppression of American freedom and liberty.  There has been little you've done while in office to convince me that you honestly and truly want the best for America and We the People.  Show us, Mr. President, that you are not the aspiring tyrant that you appear to be.   
Meanwhile, any guns and/or accessories that I may or may not have, that may or may not be impacted by any potential ban being considered in Congress, will never be listed on any government registry, nor will they be collected by any government agents. 

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