If you had any doubts about whether there was going to be a new Assault Weapons Ban battle, they should be gone now.
With President Obama's speech earlier today there is simply no way to believe gun rights are under attack yet again. The mistakes started early as the President said:
"The majority of Americans support banning the sale of military style assault weapons. A majority of Americans support banning the sale of high capacity ammunition clips. A majority of Americans support laws requiring background checks before all gun purchases so that criminals can't take advantage of legal loopholes to buy a gun from someone who can't take the responsibility of going a background check at all"[i]
Respectfully, Mister President - in order, you are wrong, you are wrong, and you are correct. Recent polling data shows that only 43% of Americans support an Assault Weapons Ban. Calling that a majority of all Americans is like saying the majority of all Americans prefer green Skittles - it just ain't true. To say that the majority of American's support banning high capacity [i]magazines is similarly wrong because only 35% of Americans would like to see further gun control laws whereas 65% would prefer to focus on enforcement of current laws.
Your call for universal background checks would meet with overwhelming support from the vast majority of gun owners. All law abiding gun owners go through a background check each and every time we buy a new firearm and make no qualms about it. More than anyone, we want to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill.
The President then went on to say:
"We're going to have to work on making access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun. We're going to need to look more closely at a culture that all too often glorifies guns and violence. And any action we take must begin inside the home and inside our hearts."
Thank you for at least addressing the cultural and very real mental health issues that must be addressed. As we've written here and here the mental health system is a trainwreck in this country. The steps we need to take are sizable and require a paradigm shift in how we think of mental health. No longer can we treat people only when ignore people seeking treatment and push them off until they are an "imminent threat of danger" to themselves or others" - because the few that fall through the cracks at that point are too late save or stop.
Culturally, we have to address the media's glorification of these mass killers. I don't need the names of the Portland gunman, the Newtown gunman, or the Aurora gunman. I don't want to see their pictures. Those people do not deserve recognition for heinous acts and the media can stop being complicit in this while talking about what a shame it is when someone emulates the behavior.
Of gun owners, the President said:
I am also betting that the majority, the vast majority, of responsible, law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say we should be able to keep the irresponsible law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war. I'm willing to bet that they don't think using a gun and using common sense are incompatible ideas. That an unbalanced man shouldn't be able to get his hands on a military style weapon so easily. That in this age of technology we should be able to check someone's criminal records before he or she can check out at a gun show. That if we work harder out of the hands of dangerous people there would be fewer atrocities like the one in Newtown"
This time the President is simply misguided. It is absolutely correct that the vast majority of, if not all, gun owners want to do what we can to keep guns out of the hands of criminals or the mentally ill. We will support universal background checks on gun sales because if we, the law-abiding, go through checks we don't want a bypass for criminals.
What we will not abide by is the concept that the vast majority of gun owners should be banned from having access to a type of weapon because there are, and always will be, people who should not have access to those weapons. Let's direct our efforts at identifying and preventing those criminals and mentally ill individuals from these weapons rather than punishing the majority for the acts of the very, very few.
If the President had come forward with suggestions regarding mental health and universal criminal background checks on gun sales with no discussion of a ban, we would have a very large consensus of support and a bill could actually pass. As it is, both sides must gear up because the President, and his advisers, seem to want to attack the 2nd Amendment based on how a rifle looks alone.
Yet another chance to have an honest national conversation that will be tossed aside to push an agenda.
here is the full speech