President Obama declares gun ownership the problem

In a press conference with reporters in Warsaw at the NATO summit, President Obama declared legal gun ownership to be a cause of tension between police officers and the communities that they serve in response to recent shootings, including the attack on police officers in Dallas.

The president’s statement started off with a piece of advice he ought to follow.  He reminded the audience that the actions of troubled individuals do not speak to the situation across the country and don’t characterize a whole group.  The two examples he gave—not by name, I’m glad to say—were the attacks on the church in Charleston and on the nightclub in Orlando.  In both cases, he said that the troubled persons who committed those crimes are not representative of the rest of America or of Muslims.  If only he’d include gun owners within the boundaries of his tolerance and leave things at that, I’d applaud his statement.

But he went on to criticize what he perceives as difficulties created for law enforcement by gun ownership.  In reference to the shooting of Philandro Castile in Minnesota, Obama said that the presence of a firearm in the hands of an ordinary citizen “in some fashion” caused the tragic event, and his claim is echoed by the attorney for the police officer who fired.

It’s a sad day when the president of this country feels free to demonize at least thirteen million of his fellow citizens.  The figures from 2015 shows that 12.8 million Americans have a license to carry concealed handguns, and more and more states have decided not to require government permission to exercise carry rights.  Applications in states that still insist on licensing to be legal are on the rise.  And as the data from Texas show, the vast majority of carry license holders are among the most law-abiding people in the country.  But the president apparently wants to magnify the tensions he believes exist between the police and the people who are following the rules.

Obama also said that while we cannot stop every madman, we can make it harder for them to carry out their attacks by imposing new gun laws.  He undermined his assertion, though, by raising the example of Chicago.  The Second City has some of the strictest gun laws in America and one of the highest homicide rates.  As advocates of gun control are fond of pointing out, guns can cross borders, coming from places with what they call lax laws, though they never explain why the guns don’t stay where they’re welcome to do their mischief.  But if onerous laws don’t show at least some benefit, if there isn’t a correlation between the strictness of gun laws and homicides, the argument for further restrictions fails to be convincing.  And indeed, no correlation exists.

The takeaway quotation from Obama’s press conference is his insistence that “if you care about the safety of our police officers, you can’t set aside the gun issue and pretend that that’s irrelevant.”  He acknowledges that the subject of guns is polarizing, while telling us that the opposing sides are a “very intense minority” and the majority of Americans who support new gun legislation.  And yet, if his interest is in reducing tensions, in ameliorating contention, his dismissive attitude toward those of us who value rights is the wrong way to go about things.

Or it may be that he wants to continue dividing the country.  A divided people are more easily stripped of their rights, and it’s up to all of us to make sure that never happens.

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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