January 08, 2016

Disappointing Townhall by CNN and President Obama

Whitehouse.gov: Fact Sheet on Gun Violence EOs

Let me start by saying the batch of Executive Orders signed by President Obama the other day are probably going to withstand any legal action taken to remove them. They are very mild, and as far as I can tell, well within the powers assigned to the Executive Branch. There is only one point that is somewhat controversial: the orders to hire more ATF and FBI agents. That will be restricted by the willingness or unwillingness of Congress to fund the additional new hires.

Overall, I don't believe anything is going to change. The townhall resolved nothing, although it did provide a fairly balanced forum. Both people who supported the President and those who opposed him appeared to be given equal time to voice their opinions and ask questions. President Obama, as usual, carefully avoided any direct response to criticisms of his policies or the concerns presented by his opponents. The one time he altered course was to accuse everyone who fears the government will someday seek to confiscate firearms of being conspiracy nuts who have no grasp of reality. That was uncalled for, unnecessary, and will no doubt fuel further fears rather than relieve them. Likewise, although no one asked the question, President Obama took the time to label as unrealistic any and all opposition to funding CDC research into gun violence. Not surprisingly, the President simply omitted any mention of the very real abuse of this funding when it existed. The attitude expressed by the President will no doubt convince those who oppose such funding that their position is, in fact, both realistic and reasonable. I cannot help but conclude that from his perspective the American people who voted against his policies are not only his political opponents, they are his personal enemies as well. One does not encourage negotiation by labeling the opposition as unrealistic enemies.

Confiscation in America is neither delusional nor a paranoid fantasy. There are many influential voices in the gun control crowd who readily acknowledge that complete removal of firearms from American society is their long-term goal. Senator Barbara Boxer, Mark Kelly the husband of Gabby Giffords, the founder of the Violence Policy Center Josh Sugarmann, and countless others are on public record insisting that someday (and sooner rather than later) they want to see firearms completely removed from American life. Perhaps President Obama himself does not desire to repeal the Second Amendment, but many of his supporters do and if their voices are the only voices considered "rational" then someday soon firearm confiscation in America will be reality. As for "how could this possibly happen?", the answer to that is pretty simple. It would happen the same way it has always happened in the history of the world: local law enforcement would be the ones primarily responsible for confiscation and primarily at risk of violent opposition to confiscation. Mark Kelly's, "How could the government confiscate 350 million objects from 65 million households?" is completely bizarre. I don't have accurate statistics, and I suspect accurate statistics are not available, but it would not surprise me to learn 350 million search warrants are executed every single day in America and well over 65 million objects are collected as evidence in the process of developing a nearly infinite number of criminal investigations.

NRA-ILA catalogs and maintains a long-running series on the successful use of firearms in self-defense. (NRA-ILA - Armed Citizen). At one time I had about a dozen similar websites listed in my bookmarks but because I so seldom had time to visit them I eventually removed them. I wanted to gather some of them back up to list them here, but unfortunately, there is a built-in bias in the Google search engine (and it is the least biased of them all!) so when I enter, "successful use of deadly force in self-defense stories" all I could get in return is hundreds of pages specifically set up to debunk "Stand your ground" or "Castle doctine" laws! I contacted Google to complain about this, but I am certain nothing will change. The owners of Google and the vast majority of people they hire are adamantly opposed to firearms. Even locating websites dedicated to firearm sales or firearm manufacturing requires the use of very specific search terms such as the name of a firearm company.

Smart guns are also a big issue with this President. He does not understand why people oppose putting smart guns into the retail market. One very big reason is that there are a handful of states (including New Jersey and California) which have existing laws requiring that once smart guns become available in the retail market those will be the only firearms sold in their state. As long as such draconian laws exist, the possibility of reasonable people supporting the sale of smart guns in the United States will remain completely non-existent. As long as those who favor smart guns continue insisting that only smart guns should be allowed in the retail market no one who enjoys owning firearms will support allowing the sale of smart guns in the United States. These laws legislate the complete removal of the freedom of choice that proponents of smart guns keep insisting American consumers should have. If they honestly believe in freedom of choice, then the first thing proponents of smart guns need to do is insist that draconian laws requiring only smart guns in the retail market be repealed. Even Forbes, a notoriously anti-gun organization, has laid out the many problems with smart guns. (Forbes: Why Everyone Should be Concerned about Smart Guns)

So what does it all mean? As usual, I can only answer for myself and my opinions have not changed. I believe the real problem is the same problem it has always been: failure to enforce existing firearm laws. President Obama repeatedly fell back on the idea of a person who buys a number of firearms in Indiana then drives into Chicago and sells them on the street corner to anyone who wants to pay the price. This scenario occurs regularly in every city and state where firearms are tightly controlled. There are already numerous federal, state, county, and city laws all across our nation that can be used to prosecute such criminals. This criminal activity feeds the violence in places like Chicago and Baltimore, and so I agree that yes, this is a problem that needs to be addressed immediately. The only way to address this problem is to locate these criminals, indict them, prosecute them, convict them, and lock them away. And yet, this is never the approach anyone who favors gun control recommends. Instead, they always have a huge catalog of laws they hope to implement, one gentle, "rational" step at a time, until finally the Second Amendment has been repealed and all firearms in America can be confiscated. All of these "rational, common sense" steps don't stop. They are only the first steps. Even the people who are proposing them acknowledge that this is only the beginning!

The problem is not this handful of Executive Orders. The problem is not the next ban on assault weapons that someone in Congress will propose sometime in the next few months. The problem is not even the draconian laws in California, Chicago, and Washington D.C. The problem is each step has a follow up and each follow up leads to another step. Time does not stop here today with this small handful of Executive Orders. Our nation and everyone in it is relentlessly moving into the future. We can either build a future where firearms are a core component of American culture or we can build a future where no private citizen in American owns firearms. One or the other. Assuming our nation and our society continues to thrive and grow, then sooner or later we will wind up in one of those two places. There is no other option. I will, until the day I die, work tirelessly to insure that we wind up in a future where every law-abiding citizen has free and easy access to the personal weapons of their choice regardless of whether those weapons are firearms, knives, swords, bow and arrows, or some future plasma-beam weapon that I cannot even conceive of at this point in time. The day the Second Amendment is repealed is the day the United States of America dies. It really is that simple.

A gun is not a car. A gun is not a bicycle. A gun is not a dog. A gun is not a chair. A gun is a weapon, a very deadly weapon. It is a tool that can save life or take life. Self-defense is a natural human right and the best tool available for self-defense is a gun, therefore, any effort to limit the access of free men and women to firearms is an effort to deny them their inherent natural right to self-defense. Crime is always a tragedy, but the gun is not the problem. The problem is there will always be criminals and every human has the right to defend themselves against those who seek to do them harm, regardless of whether the criminal who attacks them is an outlaw or the representative of an oppressive government. Access to firearms is not a privilege. It is a natural right.