The announcements, pledges, and promises of President Barack Obama are like receiving a Christmas package from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Frank Reynolds: You have a giant, beautifully wrapped gift but there is nothing inside.
Despite the previews with journalists, the big press conference, and even the staged event on cable news last night, there are no changes to the laws in this latest gun control effort. I have helped draft legislation, executive orders, and regulations and I assure you this latest effort consists of nothing legal and nothing binding.
What has been unveiled at the White House is guidance, since the president cannot create new gun laws out of thin air. One concrete action that could be done — but isn’t — is a new regulation on guns. But since regulations must be afforded due process, and could be challenged in court, Obama is opting to simply issue guidance. It can’t be challenged because it does not hold the force of law. Think of these not as laws but as reminders written on Post-It notes.
The president’s latest attempt at gun control is as desperate as it is cynical.
President Obama specifically cited nine non-gang mass shootings in his effort to persuade the media that his actions on gun control were proper and urgent. However, each and every one of those nine shootings involved guns purchased legally. Had his gun control wish list been in place on his first day in office, it would have stopped precisely zero of those nine attacks.
The president even implied that violent felons could purchase guns on the Internet with no background check and no questions asked, the same way one buys products on Amazon. This is a clever sleight of hand, but his charm isn’t enough to to persuade Americans. I challenge anyone to try and purchase a simple revolver the way you buy a book from Amazon. I could be wrong. But let’s not forget, the president also said the Obamacare website would work like Amazon when it launched.
Perhaps, Obama thinks buying things over the internet is supposed to be a cumbersome, frustrating, counterintuitive, and nearly impossible task that does little more than provide your personal financial information to identify thieves. Since the president isn’t very clear on this point, it is hard to decipher.
Curiously, the president didn’t mention there are places where violent felons do purchase guns without a background check and with no questions asked — his hometown of Chicago. Since investigating, arresting, and prosecuting felons who are illegally buying and selling guns is very hard work, the administration prefers to harass the law abiding guns owners. It’s much easier.
It’s also easier to note the 30,000 gun deaths in the US each year than to tackle what can be done about the 20,000 of those that are suicides.
So why are people so upset that the President is taking action, even if it is just some “guidance” that doesn’t have the force of law? It boils down to trust. Many media outlets, such as the New York Times, have called for banning guns. President Obama himself has held out the Australian method of gun control as the model America should follow. Gun owners know that the Australian model ended with the forced confiscation of Australian citizens’ private firearms. So when the President talks about gun control, guns owners know what he really wants to do and they react accordingly.
At least give the president credit for making Americans safer. How so? Statistics have shown that an increase in legal gun ownership results in a lower crime rate. Every time this president proposes new gun control measures, legal gun sales necessarily skyrocket, and Americans are safer. It seems that President Obama really does play three dimensional chess after all.
Photo by Rod Waddington
Michael James Barton is the founder of a consulting firm, Hyatt Solutions. He worked on trade issues on Capitol Hill and served at the Department of Defense and the Homeland Security Council during the George W. Bush administration. He can be reached at Scheduling@HyattSolutions.com and you can follow him on Twitter at @MichaelJames357.