Since last December's terrible shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Obama has been engaged in a personal war on guns. He felt that the general public was ready for stricter gun controls, including a ban on semi-automatic weapons and extensive background checks.
Guess what? Even in Mr. Obama's America, personal liberty and freedom of choice continue to trump government interference and a nanny-state mentality. The president has ignored the public's mood when it comes to guns — and it appears he's going to lose his personal war in a devastating fashion.
On April 17, the Democrat-controlled Senate was unable to muster the necessary 60 votes to pass Mr. Obama's offensive gun bill. In particular, the ban on semi-automatic weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as increasing background checks on gun purchases, all fell at the first hurdle.
While it was understood that most Senate Republicans would vote against these measures, it was interesting that a few Democrats defied Mr. Obama and joined their effort. As political strategist Stuart Rothenberg told Bloomberg News on April 12, "I think it's at the least embarrassing, and more than that, a bit of a problem, that Democrats can't get every Democrat."
That's not the way Mr. Obama chose to spin this embarrassing legislative defeat, of course. Rather, he called it "a pretty shameful day for Washington," stating there "were no coherent arguments as to why we wouldn't do this. It came down to politics." Furthermore, he went on to say, "Ninety percent of Democrats in the Senate voted for that idea. But it's not going to happen because 90 percent of Republicans in the Senate just voted against that idea."
To be sure, it must be difficult for a president who supposedly walks on water to suddenly sink to the bottom of the ocean. Yet he helped create his own watery grave by playing politics with people's emotions, and proposing gun-control legislation less than a day after the Sandy Hook tragedy. The fact that he couldn't obtain his party's complete support for background checks proves his proposals simply didn't have the political momentum the White House thought they did.
For the Republicans, this is a huge moment. After months of being on the defensive, the GOP has a real opportunity to bring down Mr. Obama's awful plan of increasing gun control — and promote more freedom for individual rights and property rights.
Many law-abiding citizens, including a significant number of hunters and gun collectors, feel they're being targeted by Mr. Obama and most Democrats. They're right, and they should be left alone. The Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution reads, "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed." While the times we live in are different — and the weapons being made are far more complex — the Founders were wise to support a person's right to own a gun. It's a matter of personal choice, and a strong defense of property rights in a country that so greatly cherishes freedom, liberty and democracy.
Many Republicans already realize this, and some Democrats aren't going to support Mr. Obama's reactionary position to the Second Amendment and risk their political careers in the process. After the horrific Boston Marathon bombings, my sense is that even more Democrats will realize that public safety and security are far more important than a one-man campaign for increased gun control.
Here's what the GOP should do. It should criticize the White House plan for supporting gun control and condemning law-abiding citizens, and lead the charge to focus our energies on tackling the real problem: cracking down on illegal weapons.
For many years, there has been a steady flow of guns available on the black market for droves of would-be criminals, thugs and gangs. The mere existence of these weapons has increased drug trafficking and has helped heighten concerns over border security as well as international and homegrown terrorism.
The black market needs to be brought down immediately, and the GOP would earn praise from potential voters for focusing on this issue. It's a more realistic way to curb concerns with guns, rather than Mr. Obama's foolish and poorly thought-out gun-control plan.
Michael Taube is a former speechwriter for Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and a contributor to The Washington Times.
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