President Barack Obama used the Sunday evening memorial service for the murdered kindergartners and adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School to launch a partisan campaign that could expand government intrusion into parenting and gun control.
“[The] job of keeping our children safe, and teaching them well, is something we can only do together, with the help of friends and neighbors … and the help of a nation,” Obama said at the vigil, which was held only a short distance from the Connecticut school where 20 children and six adults were murdered on Friday.
“We will have to change. … If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief … then surely we have an obligation to try.”
It is not clear if Obama actually will develop a national anti-violence crusade that would reshape families’ ability to raise their children. He may simply be using the Sandy Hook shooting to paint Democrats as defenders of the nation’s children from the GOP-backed gun industry.
But Obama promised imminent action via Democratic-affiliated lobbies, such as the mental-health sector and the teachers’ unions. (RELATED VIDEO — MSNBC guest: Sandy Hook aftermath would have been uglier if shooter hadn’t been white)
“In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens — from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators — in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this,” he declared.
Through his 18-minute speech, Obama’s language promised a partisan and divisive project by suggesting people who disagree with his policies are callous, dishonest, complacent or uncaring.
“We can’t accept events like this as routine,” he said. “Can we honestly say that we’re doing enough to keep our children — all of them — safe from harm?” he added. “Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard?”
“Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?” he asked.
Obama’s rhetoric ignored many modest or local measures that could reduce gun violence without further increasing the federal government’s role.
At the federal level, such modest reforms could include funding for the institutionalization of disturbed people, or for training teachers who choose to carry a weapon to work. The federal government also has some authority to restrict the sale of high-capacity bullet magazines and body armor, as well as the ability to boost the financial rewards for parents who stay married.
State and local government are also free to adopt similar measures.
In Texas, for example, at least one school district — Harrold Independent School District — encourages teachers to bring guns to work.
Some states, including Connecticut, have experimented with stringent control on guns, partly because many influential university-trained professionals abhor guns being sold to poor Americans. But Connecticut’s stringent anti-gun laws did not stop the murders at Sandy Hook.
In contrast, voters in several GOP-leaning states allow most citizens to carry concealed guns. Many such states have seen their murder-rates drop, despite the economic trauma caused by the federal government’s 1990s intrusion into the nation’s housing market.
In fact, Obama’s speech came four months after a gunman from a Democratic-aligned gay-advocacy group in Washington D.C. was disarmed by a wounded guard.
The gunman was shooting his way into the D.C. offices of the GOP-leaning Family Research Council. (RELATED: Guard takes down gunman)
Obama has repeatedly shown he favors far-reaching federal programs. For example, throughout 2010, he argued that the federal government must intrude into the nation’s medical sector to ensure that roughly 30 million Americans could get their medical care from doctors, rather than hospitals’ emergency rooms.
Similarly, in 2010, he argued that the student-loan sector should only be managed by a federal intrusion and takeover. Since then, outstanding student loans have climbed to $1 trillion, and the default rate has jumped to 20 percent of the loans that are now due.
To justify a potentially massive federal intrusion into child-rearing, Obama cited three other relatively recent mass-shootings: the massacres in Fort Hood, Arizona and Colorado.
However, none of those incidents was an attack on a school, and one was a jihadi attack by an Muslim officer in the U.S. Army Army whose pro-Islam statements were ignored by senior officers. The jihadi’s attack killed 13 soldiers and civilians who were not allowed carry their weapons on base.
To boost his demand for federal action, Obama also cited street crime between gangs in neighborhoods that have few intact families.
Such crime is very common in his adopted home state of Illinois, where officials have created an effective ban on personal defense weapons and crime has soared in African-American communities, which have suffered from extensive federal intrusion and welfare since the 1960s.
In late October, Chicago saw its 436th murder of 2012, breaking the city’s 2011 total of 435.
“There have been an endless series of deadly shootings across the country, almost daily reports of victims, many of them children, in small towns and big cities all across America. … We can’t tolerate this anymore,” Obama declared, without mentioning the laws in his home city.
Throughout his speech, Obama ignored language in the Constitution that protects individual’s right to carry weapons, and the extensive gun control laws in Connecticut, Illinois and other progressive-run states.
Nevertheless, he insisted that gun violence end.
“These tragedies must end. And to end them, we must change,” he said, without suggesting how progressives should change their policies in Chicago, Connecticut and other jurisdictions.