To Americans who can still think, this past week’s sensationalized gun-control presentation at the White House was all show, with little substance. The intended effect was to have us believe that the president was doing something about gun violence; but nearly all of his 23 recommendations are aimed at law-abiding citizens, rather than criminals.
You’d think that President Obama was from California, as masterfully as he stages events, complete with props, isolated talking-points, and emotional image manipulation. Perhaps it’s simply a “Chicago Way” skill acquired from “never letting a crisis go to waste.” The net result was an emotionalized response to a legitimate concern, which should’ve been approached with common sense rather than emotionalism. This administration is perhaps the most adept ever at using fear and emotion to further its ideological agenda.
The props used in the presentation were four children who wrote to the president about gun control and families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary last month. Such blatant emotionalized exploitation of children for a political objective should be an affront to any sentient person. I couldn’t help but think of a picture I saw the next day of two adorable girls holding a sign that said, “Mr. President, we wrote to you about passing all of your debt to us. When do we get to be on TV?” Sorry, girls. That’s not an issue the president cares about; otherwise, you could be similarly exploited, emotively, as child-props.
The props, staging, and presentation created the false image that if we care about those children, we must stand with the president in challenging constitutional rights and our own ability to defend ourselves. It’s a false dichotomy; for the basis of his Executive Orders is emotional and the recommendations of no perceivable empirical value in protecting those children.
Proving that the 23 executive orders were all show and little substance, or mostly emotion and little common sense, consider the fact that had all of the president’s Executive Orders and Administrative Orders been in effect before last month, Adam Lanza would still have been able to perpetrate his crime in Newtown, Connecticut. As it is, he reportedly broke 20 laws that day. It is ludicrous to presume that a few more laws, regulations, or penalties aimed primarily at law-abiding citizens would have prevented him from perpetrating his heinous act. What those orders will do is impede non-threatening citizens from procuring their own means of protection. The criminals will continue to break laws and regulations to get and do what they want.
At least Obama didn’t issue an Executive Order to ban certain types of weapons, or to enact what is undoubtedly his ultimate goal: the elimination of the Second Amendment altogether and the implementation of a complete gun ban. Had he done so, the consequences could well have turned sour for him with impeachment proceedings initiated in the House, and for the nation, as law-abiding gun owners across the country prepared to defend their rights against the tyranny of an administration that holds the Constitution, and certain inalienable rights, in contempt.
When we approach the issue logically versus emotionally, empirical data must be relied upon, rather than the highly emotional tugs at our heartstrings. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) in 2003 thoroughly analyzed fifty-one in-depth studies dealing with gun control. Those studies included everything from the effectiveness of gun bans to laws requiring gunlocks. From their objective analysis, they “found no discernible effect on public safety by any of the measures we commonly think of as ‘gun control.’”
If we want to be serious about gun violence, first, abolish gun free zones, which blatantly advertise themselves as uncontested areas to perpetrate mass violence. They allow loonies like Lanza to be foxes in a hen house. Armed citizens, like the one in an Oregon mall last month, are the best defense against the Lanzas of the world.
Second, address the gang violence issue in America. According to the Center for Disease Control, 70% of all gun violence occurs in the 50 largest cities (some of which have outright gun bans in place); and 73% of those crimes are committed by teenagers in gangs. Address the societal breakdown in the inner cities that fosters the gang culture, and armed violence drops significantly.
Third, focus much more effort on background checks, including the abolition of the barrier that prevents mental health professionals from sharing patient information with law enforcement on individuals who pose a risk to society.
Fourth, rather than focusing on guns as an ideological agenda, start looking at all violent crimes. According to the FBI, there are 50% more non-firearm homicides each year than firearm homicides, 16,799 to 11,493. And the number one weapon used in all violent crimes is the baseball bat. Neither the bat nor the gun is the problem. The problems are cultural and societal.
And the media must quit playing into the quest for celebrity status by people like Lanza and start praising people like Nick Meli, who stopped the Oregon mall shooting rampage last month.
To solve the complex problems vexing the nation, we need much less emotionalized staging in reaction to crises and much more common sense. Children used as props to advance an ideological agenda may provide a “feel good” moment for politicians, and even some citizens; but they solve no problems.
AP award winning columnist Richard Larsen is President of Larsen Financial, a brokerage and financial planning firm in Pocatello, Idaho, and is a graduate of Idaho State University with a BA in Political Science and History and former member of the Idaho State Journal Editorial Board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: Gregory Wild-Smith (Creative Commons)