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In his most extensive comments on gun control since the tragic Aurora theater shooting, President Obama called for tighter gun control measures in a speech at the Urban League in New Orleans…
“I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms. And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -– that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.
“But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals –– that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities. I believe the majority of gun owners would agree that we should do everything possible to prevent criminals and fugitives from purchasing weapons; that we should check someone’s criminal record before they can check out a gun seller; that a mentally unbalanced individual should not be able to get his hands on a gun so easily. These steps shouldn’t be controversial. They should be common sense.”
Noting that lax gun control is only one part of the problem, Obama also touched on the historic new agreement between the New Orleans police department and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division to reduce crime and corruption, as well as government programs in Boston, Chicago, and Detroit meant to steer young people away from gangs and street violence…
In his speech Wednesday night, Obama acknowledged that it has been difficult to get stricter gun control laws through Congress; the NRA and other gun rights lobbyists outspent gun control advocates 17 to 1 in Washington just last year. But a new poll found that gun-owning Americans, including NRA members, overwhelmingly support gun control regulations, with 87 percent of NRA members agreeing that “support for the Second Amendment goes hand-in-hand with keeping illegal guns out of the hands of criminals.”
Congress-critters – liberal, middle-of-the-road, conservatives, out-and-out rightwing nutballs – rarely have the courage to confront a reactionary lobby like the NRA. Even the progressive members of Congress who stand up for sensible regulation are tempted to hedge their positions back home.
The truly paranoid gun nuts aren’t going to support someone advancing sensible regulation, anyway. Or even no regulation. The wave of fear-filled little gun mice pouring millions of dollars into the coffers of gun manufacturers since Obama’s election is indicative of a number of cultural failings – from racism to xenophobia. The only important effect of all this has been emphasizing the cowardice of American politicians.
Obama is smart enough to understand that a moderate call for regulation at this point in time isn’t going to cost him a single vote. If his peers stood upright long enough to see the forest for the trees – they would come to the same conclusion.
For the record, I should note I’ve been a gun owner and hunter for decades. I come from a family that includes some of the best gunsmiths in America. Firearms play a long outdated role in American culture. All the more reason for sound regulation.