Gun control is back. President Obama on Wednesday unveiled a series of feel-good measures designed to play on the emotions of Americans saddened by the horrific shooting of 20 students at Sandy Hook Elementary School last month. Almost nothing he proposes to do would make anyone safer.
Surrounding himself with children, Mr. Obama said, “This will be difficult. There will be pundits and politicians and special-interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty — not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves.”
The president said that he would go around Congress by taking 23 executive actions. He signed a handful as soon as the news conference ended, and one of the upcoming proclamations will order Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. “to review categories of individuals prohibited from having a gun” to determine if those categories need to be expanded. Mr. Holder’s agency is hardly the model for gun safety, considering it came up with the Operation Fast and Furious program to run guns to Mexican drug cartels.
The National Rifle Association responded with a campaign to fight back against gun-free zones. “Everything in his statement was either about limiting gun rights or giving himself a fig leaf while he does so,” NRA President David Keene told The Washington Times. “It wasn’t so much about protecting our children as it was about using our concern for their safety to push an ideological agenda.”
Mr. Obama was silent throughout his first term on gun control. It’s only now that he’s a lame duck that the most radical aspects of his agenda are emerging, cloaked with misleading phrases. “Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater,” the president said, deliberately confusing the fully automatic weapons used by our troops with the popular semi-automatic rifles available to civilians that are rarely used in crimes. He wants to reimpose the Clinton-era gun ban that expired in 2004, even though that law did not decrease crime, nor did it prevent the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado.
The administration is throwing its weight behind Senate legislation that would limit pistol and rifle magazines to 10 rounds, as if criminals weren’t aware it only takes a second or two to reload. Mr. Obama said “high-capacity magazines” have “one purpose — to pump out as many bullets as possible, as quickly as possible, to do as much damage, using bullets often designed to inflict maximum damage.”
The White House also called for a “a universal background check for anyone trying to buy a gun.” Since the majority of states don’t require registration of guns, it is unclear how the White House can enforce this provision when one law-abiding American sells or trades a gun privately with another resident of the same state. Criminals who obtain their guns off the streets won’t be calling the FBI to perform a background check before completing the transaction.
Most of the nearly two dozen items on Mr. Obama’s action list are equally pointless or unenforceable. They’re a public relations stunt designed to prime the public for even greater infringement on Second Amendment rights. As the president begins his second term next week, Americans need to be doubly vigilant to preserve their liberty in the midst of this well-coordinated attack on their rights.
Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.