PERRY/Obama's sound, fury on guns
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 12:00 AM
I'm not afraid of President Barack Obama's Executive Orders regarding guns.
He directed his Attorney General to review current policy; proposed rulemaking to give law enforcement the ability to run a background check before returning seized guns; told federal law enforcement to "trace" guns recovered in criminal investigations (They don't do that already? I guess I watch too much television.); and announced he would nominate an ATF director for Senate approval (required since 2006).
Some of the Orders are typical Executive Branch bureaucratic sound and fury: write a letter to gun dealers on how to do what they're already doing; write a letter to healthcare providers reminding them to report what they already report; issue a study on lost and stolen guns (no, not Fast & Furious, that was Executive Privilege not an Executive Order); "maximize" enforcement efforts to prevent gun violence and prosecute gun crime (now he is really, really serious about enforcement and prosecution, really, really maximum serious); direct the Centers for Disease Control to study gun violence; review safety standards for gun locks and gun safes and issue a report on gun-safety technology; and provide model emergency response plans to schools and churches (likely a diagram which might resemble the map on the back of your hotel room door).
Several of President Obama's Orders could easily be confused with NRA initiatives: launch a national safe and responsible gun ownership campaign; provide law enforcement, first responders and school officials with training; and provide incentives for schools to hire armed officers.
Liberals who trumpet a right to privacy might be concerned about some of the Orders: increase data sharing among federal agencies; "address" legal barriers in Obamacare that prevents sharing health information with federal agencies; and encourage states to share personal information. Basically, he wants health records as private in Obamacare as travel and finance records are in the Patriot Act. That should terrify both ends of the political spectrum.
But the scariest Order of all: launch a national dialogue on mental health by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Education Secretary Arne Duncan. I will watch C-SPAN with white knuckles. They can pry my dialogue from cold, dead lips!
Seriously, who is afraid of dialogue? Politicians can say some stupid things, but I recognize this for what it is: political pandering by the White House to liberals who hate guns by preying on those who fear guns. After the murder of children in a school, or regular folks at a movie theater by deranged savages, people are afraid and want the government to do something about it.
If people thought gun violence could be ended by gun control, there would be a tidal push for restraining guns. But guns are not the problem. We are not taking guns from the military, although there are some in the military who abuse guns (Nidal Malik Hasan at Fort Hood). We are not taking guns from the police, although there are some in the police who abuse guns (Hans Walters in Las Vegas). Mass murderers don't need guns (Timothy McVeigh). And gun control does not work: John Fund recently wrote that gun researcher and economist John Lott said, "With just one single exception, the attack on congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in Tuscan in 2001, every public shooting since at least 1950 in the U.S. in which more than three people have been killed has taken place where citizens are not allowed to carry guns."
I don't begrudge liberals engaging in political pandering. But the same old tired efforts are futile, and more troubling, an attempt to violate the rights of Americans protected by the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment is not an inconvenience to skirt; it is no less sacred (in civic terms) than the rest of the Bill of Rights.
Consider our reaction to government control of other rights: "we're not banning religion, we're just limiting the number of churches you can have" or "we're not stepping on free speech, we're just limiting the number of pages in a newspaper, after all, who needs more than ten pages to report a story?"
If the pen is mightier than the sword, perhaps the government should license journalists and make sure they are not felons or suffer from mental challenges. Maybe there should be a 48-hour waiting period before a newspaper publishes a story: a cooling off period before they hastily print news. It is one thing to have a Bible, but a seminary library? Who needs that much religion? If the devil comes for you, call a priest.
Sure, we do have limits to speech and religion and the same applies to guns. But politically, attempts at gun restriction will meet bipartisan defeat in the U.S. Congress and efforts by the President so far, signify nothing except politics as usual.
Brian Perry is a columnist for the Madison County Journal and a partner with Capstone Public Affairs, LLC. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @CapstonePerry on Twitter.