President Barack Obama shed a tear when he was announcing his plan to regulate gun ownership. In response, the American people should cry for the Constitution and rule of law.
Everyone agrees that some people shouldn’t own guns. The question is how to protect the public from the dangerous few without endangering the public by interfering with their Second Amendment rights. Unfortunately, the President didn’t even try to find the right balance.
For instance, he wants to expand background checks to private transactions between none gun dealers like you and me by executive fiat. Yet even he admitted this step wouldn’t have stopped the killings in San Bernardino and Newtown.
When a politician says we must act in response to a crisis, but proposes measures that won’t solve the supposed problem, you know he’s got another agenda.
Don’t worry, said President Obama. I don’t want to take your guns. Heck, I’ve only got a year left in office.
Thank goodness! But that’s still a lot of time in which to do a lot of damage.
If nothing else, he probably hopes to take the blame when people vote in November, helping Hillary Clinton win the election. Then she could spend eight years further attacking gun rights.
He’s also doing more to make the imperial executive permanent. To say the president can do whatever he wishes whenever he wishes stands the Constitution on its head. Only in Washington is a firm, unyielding, definitive legislative “no” taken as an executive yes.
The American people understand that the refusal of Congress to approve his plans means no. Indeed, that’s why they handed control to the Republican Party. They wanted to tell him not just no, but hell no, when it came to attacking their liberties.
Of course, there are important issues to be addressed. How should we handle mental illness? Who gets to decide if someone is a public “threat”? But these important questions are not answered by talking about gun control.
What to do about terrorism is equally important. If one thing is clear, however, it is that punishing the law-abiding won’t stop murderous jihadists.
Indeed, we need only look at our own history. As a study by the American Civil Rights Union, “The Truth About Gun Control, Racism and Genocide,” pointed out, the Ku Klux Klan used gun control to disarm the freedmen of the South. Disarming law-abiding residents of poor neighborhoods today allows open season by criminals and gangs.
The horrid mass killings which we all abhor did not occur because too many people owned guns. The problem was a few of the wrong people owned them. But the president alone can’t decide who those people are.
Moreover, the best answer would have been more of the right people carrying a firearm. America is a large, open, and free society, filled with community and public spaces. Which makes it vulnerable to a malicious few.
Since we aren’t a police state, however, cops cannot be everywhere. Thus, the first responders in the case of an attack usually must be members of the public. A well-armed citizenry is the ultimate guarantee for Americans’ security.
So let’s talk about how to encourage better public preparedness. It should be easier for people to own guns—and learn how to use them responsibly.
Moreover, civic leaders and public officials should respect those who own firearms. It’s fine that some people don’t want to own a gun. But they shouldn’t demonize those who do. Gun owners are like everyone else.
And they make all of us, including those who don’t own firearms, safer.
But the president’s proposal reaches beyond gun regulation. He forces us to ask: are there any limits on government? Can the president ignore Congress and make new law? Do we want to turn more of our rights over to politicians, bureaucrats, and judges?
Ironically, this continuing concentration of power in Washington motivates more people to buy guns. “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely,” warned Lord Acton. Surely that is the case with the U.S. government today.
If gun critics really want to reduce firearm ownership, they should stop threatening people’s liberties, starting with Second Amendment rights. America is no tyranny. But as Thomas Jefferson warned us, we must be eternally vigilant to stay free.
Congress must tell the president no, he cannot overstep his bounds. And the American people must ensure that his successor understands that liberty undergirds our republic. We cannot allow big government politicians to misdefine and take advantage of another crisis to expand their power.
Ken Blackwell is a policy board member of the American Civil Rights Union. He is a former mayor of Cincinnati.