President Barack Obama will talk gun control today with members of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), in a city that is something of a “poster child” for both sides of the gun rights v. gun control debate.
The Huffington Post yesterday portrayed his appearance as an effort to chat up “commonsense” gun control, whatever that means. To the gun prohibition lobby, it usually translates to throwing as many discouraging roadblocks as possible in the way of honest citizens wishing to exercise their civil rights, while accomplishing nothing to reduce violent crime or make neighborhoods safer.
The president seems to be emphasizing gun control these days, helping to make it a campaign issue for his likely successor, Hillary Rodham Clinton, if she wins the election. But in the process, they risk alienating a huge bloc of likely voters, and if that is by design, the next 12 months could be one very long brawl.
UPDATE: The Citizens Committee for the Right to Keep and Bear Arms today challenged President Obama to try his gun control message on elected county sheriffs, deputies and municipal street cops.
“It is troubling that some American law enforcement officials seem so eager to embrace what amounts to a mirage when it comes to addressing crime and dealing with criminals,” Gottlieb stated. “Ultimately, the task of enforcing unpopular and perhaps even unconstitutional gun laws will fall on their shoulders, and the dedicated rank-and-file officers they are supposed to lead. For them to entertain the president’s notion that eroding the gun rights and privacy of honest citizens will somehow stop the criminal element simply defies common sense.
“You cannot create a solid foundation for public safety and trust by advocating measures that penalize honest citizens while criminals simply ignore new laws as well as old ones,” he said.
The mainstream press is not just an objective observer in all of this, but in some cases, more of a willing ally. Yesterday’s story in the Washington Post alleging that there have been “at least 29 mass shootings” over the past eight years committed by people who had concealed carry permits or licenses is an example.
Yesterday’s report seemed specifically designed to rebut an earlier Washington Post piece by Eugene Volokh that discussed interventions by armed private citizens to stop crimes. This only adds to speculation in the firearms community that when the press sees a story whose premise seems to go against the gun control narrative, there will almost certainly be a rebuttal to remind the public just how bad guns are, and how ineffective armed citizens have been at stopping crime.
The New York Times editorialized about this just yesterday. Both newspapers relied on information from the Violence Policy Center, a gun control group. The newspaper editorial headline intimated that the idea of using firearms in self-defense is something of a fantasy. Millions of Americans, including an estimate 12.5 million licensed citizens, might disagree.
Somewhere lurking in the background of this debate is the real prize for anti-gunners: The federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court. The next president will likely appoint one or more new Supreme Court justices, and a passel of federal district and appeals court judges. Those are the people who will sculpt the next round of Second Amendment cases, and a legion of liberal activist judges are not likely to do the right to keep and bear arms any justice at all, gun rights activists say.
Courting police chiefs with a gun control message might not play too well with rank-and-file cops, either. President Obama has plenty of critics among street cops and sheriff’s deputies, but his habit of creating division is nothing new. He’s been rather good at it, and today he’s playing on his home court, where gun control zealots have axes to grind.
The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association, and local gun rights groups, have been rather successful in recent years, pounding Illinois gun control laws in the courts. The courts broke Chicago’s stranglehold handgun ban, forced the city to adopt a new policy, and forced the state legislature to adopt a concealed carry law.
Gun prohibitionists want payback. They want to regain lost ground and further restrict gun rights. All gun owners want is to be left alone.
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