Town hall: Guns in America

Thursday evening, CNN’s Anderson Cooper hosted a town hall meeting at George Mason University with President Obama facing a live audience on the subject of gun violence and the president’s executive orders on gun control.  As a supporter of gun rights who has a voice in the national discussion on this subject, I have to say that in this event, Cooper raised challenging points about the administrations gun policies and brought people with a variety of opinions together to ask Obama their own questions.

Several supporters of the president’s initiatives were present, including Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords, Father Michael Pflager, and Cleo Pendleton, mother of Hadiya Pendleton, the teenager who died in Chicago a week after performing at Obama’s second inauguration.  Their questions were predictable, many softballs that approved of the president’s actions or expressions of outrage against Congress, the NRA, and gun owners generally.

Kelly’s comment was a mocking attack on anyone who is concerned that Obama would like to remove guns from American citizens.  Kelly pointed out the more than 300 million guns held in private hands—he named sixty-five million households, though that number is debated—as if this somehow means that efforts for gun control in the administration and in some states are nothing to be concerned about.  Obama joined in the mockery, labeling the idea that he wants to confiscate guns as a conspiracy theory.  But Cooper raised the fact that Obama has spoken approvingly of Australian gun control measures , observing that things like this create distrust on the part of gun rights supporters in this country.  The president changed the subject for a moment, speaking of the hunters in the southern part of Illinois, and then reminded America that he has only a year left in office.  In that time and onward, he promises not to campaign for any candidate who doesn’t support what he termed “commonsense gun reform.”

More pointed were the questions from Taya Kyle, widow of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, Kimberly Corban, a rape survivor and advocate for rape victims, and Paul Babeu, sheriff of Pinal County, Arizona and candidate for Congress—pointed especially since Obama deflected their challenges to his policies and sought to shift the subject to the usual interests of gun control advocates.

Kyle argued that expanding background checks would do no good, particularly with regard to mass shootings, given that mass shooters often pass such checks.  She also pointed out that our rates of violent crime are the lowest in decades—as is shown by data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting program.  Obama’s response?  He thanked Kyle for her service and that of her husband, admitted she was right on the facts, then complained that mysterious gun dealers are transporting carloads of guns into Chicago and that criminals are using trusts to buy silencers.

When Corban told her story about being raped and wanting to have a gun of her choice that she can carry in public to protect herself, Obama praised her strength, then questioned her judgement in having a gun in her home, while claiming that a gun isn’t all that useful in home defense.  (This despite admitting that his wife would want a gun if she lived in a farmhouse in Iowa.)  He also said that the point of his executive orders is to make it more difficult for rapists to get guns, though he didn’t explain how that would work in any way that proved his point.

Babeu reminded Obama that both he and the president swore an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States and that guns are enumerated for protection in that document, while the toys and aspirin that Obama had referred to earlier are not.  The president had said that we make child-proof medicine bottles, while having guns that children can get and use easily—though I have to wonder if he’s aware of the ABC report about how child-proofing is ineffective.  Obama went on to challenge his own claim to be a supporter of the Second Amendment when he said in response to Babeu’s question that one answer to mass shootings would be to prevent people from having semiautomatic firearms.

What we see here is yet more evidence that President Obama offers insincere assurances, while expressing his desire to do exactly what he says he doesn’t want—namely, to ban many types of guns, if not all.  He acknowledged that all that is available to him is an incremental approach to reducing gun violence and listed a number of solutions that do not involve gun control, solutions that I’ve suggested before and would be pleased if he’d focus on, instead of his continual lecturing of gun owners and demands that we give up more of our rights.  He closed with a call for voters to support change.  In that as well, I can agree with him, though the sensible gun laws that I want to see would be ones that protect and enhance the exercise of gun rights.  As he said, he has one more year in office.  This November, we choose who will succeed him.  Make the next president be someone who really does believe in and defend the Second Amendment.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the position of

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