|Obama's Use of Children in Gun-Control Debate Is Dishonest|
By Michael Ramirez
Wednesday, January 23 2013
To understand why President Obama surrounded himself with a human shield of children last week as he ordered a tightening of our nation's gun controls, you have to remember this is an administration that never lets a "crisis" go to waste. Nor does it resist the use of a superficial prop to divert attention from serious deliberation.
It also has a history of claiming urgency to pass solutions based on misinformation without careful reflection.
That anyone would use children in such an overtly political manner or hijack a tragedy like Sandy Hook to further their political aims is repulsive in itself. But also remember this is an administration that knowingly walked hundreds of semi-automatic weapons and rifles across the Mexican border with little regard for the resulting slaughter of innocent people or the death of a U.S. Border Patrol agent.
This is also a president who has no problem leaving our children a huge burden of debt and a lower quality of life, thanks to his unrestrained and irresponsible fiscal management.
Some surmise the primary motivation of Fast and Furious, the Mexican gun-walking operation, was to make a political case for gun control by selling the weapons to criminals.
Now, the administration has found another way to restrict the sale of weapons and ammunition — not to criminals, but to honest citizens.
Never mind that Connecticut already has an assault weapons ban, that the state lists possession of such firearms as a class D felony or that there's probably nothing, short of confiscating all guns or providing armed security at all schools, that could have prevented the tragedy at Newtown, Conn.
At last count there were more than 310 million guns in the U.S., and a 2008 court ruling (District of Columbia vs. Heller) reaffirmed our Second Amendment rights. So guns aren't going away, and Heller would add still more.
Placing armed marshals in schools the way armed marshals are placed in airlines may not be a bad idea. But it should be done at the local level and measured first for effectiveness and cost efficiency.
The efficacy of these programs would vary from community to community, which is why the Constitution leaves these and other issues like them to the jurisdiction of the states and localities, not the federal government. These issues need to be carefully considered rather than reacted to or passed based on the passion of the moment.
We all grieved for the tragedy in Newtown. The senseless loss of so many innocents can't help but generate strong feelings. No one wants a repeat of this crime and everyone wants to find solutions. Rather than form lynch mobs or gather children to use as political props, we should find the right solutions.
We should encourage our fellow citizens to mourn this tragedy, but then take a deep breath and consider the remedy carefully.
Too often when such tragic events occur, detached, objective consideration of the facts is trumped by the emotional desire to do something, anything.
But to find the right answers, you first need the right information. For instance, a Harvard study showed rates of violence in high-gun-ownership countries are much lower than in low ownership ones. And both New York and Chicago have some of our nation's strictest gun laws, yet they also have some of the highest crime and murder rates.
Norway has some of the strictest gun-control laws in the world, in addition to free mental health care. Yet it was the victim in 2008 of a horrendous crime that killed 69 children and attendees at a youth camp.
The term "military-style assault weapon" is a misnomer. The distinction is mostly cosmetic.
They are called "assault weapons" because they look like their military counterparts, but in reality they are worlds apart. When you pull the trigger of an automatic weapon it fires multiple rounds. Automatic weapons can shoot up to 1,000 rounds a minute and fire continuously as long as you hold the trigger. They are banned.
A weapon is called "semi-automatic" because it is self-loading. When you pull the trigger of a semi-automatic weapon or a "military-style assault weapon," it fires just one round, just like your average Browning deer rifle, or the popular Remington 1100 shotgun, James Bond's trusty Walther PPK, or Barney Fife's double-action .38 revolver.
In 1993, the Assault Weapons Ban distinguished which semi-automatic rifles were classified as "assault weapons" largely based on their aesthetic features — collapsible stocks, flash hiders, and pistol grips, none of which would increase or decrease the number of rounds you can shoot when you pull the trigger.
The Assault Weapons Ban had a negligible effect on gun crimes. It did not ban the weapon used in the Columbine Massacre in 1999 and would not have banned the handguns used in the Virginia Tech murders in 2007.
Limiting magazine capacity also had little effect. The criminals simply brought more clips.
Even so, murders with "assault weapons" represent less than 1% of murders with guns.
The deadliest mass murder at a U.S. school remains the 1927 Bath Consolidated School disaster in Michigan. There, 38 elementary school children and six adults were killed when a 55-year-old ex-school treasurer set off explosives.
In the past 30 years, 543 people have been killed in 70 mass shootings — an average of 18 deaths a year. In contrast, three times as many people die from lightening strikes.
According to FBI statistics, 352 people were killed last year with rifles, 424 with shotguns, 1,836 with knives or cutting instruments, 623 with hammers or blunt objects, 815 people with personal weapons defined as hands, feet and fists, and 122 by strangulation.
By comparison, 32,885 people died in auto accidents, 10,839 from drunk driving, 443,000 people from tobacco-related diseases and 180,000 people from "hospital error."
In listing these, I'm merely trying to put the problem in perspective — not to minimize gun tragedies or say we shouldn't find a solution to these horrible crimes.
The common thread in the mass shootings is that perpetrators tend to suffer from mental illness. Truth is, if a madman wants to kill someone, he or she will find a way — whether it's with a gun, a knife, a hammer, a subway train, explosives or a truck full of fertilizer.
The best way to stop them is by identifying and treating their illness before they commit these crimes. But if that fails, the next best way to stop them is with a gun.
Our Founding Fathers believed our rights were conceived by God. These rights — life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness — are established by natural law and protected by our Constitution. The Second Amendment was established to protect those rights and to protect individuals from tyranny.
The loss of 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook is a terrible, terrible loss. And, yes, losing even one child is a terrible, terrible loss.
Emotional reactions, impractical remedies, imperious actions and the political abuse of children in this senseless tragedy offer no solutions.
Let's start with this: Lots of existing gun laws are already on the books. Enforce them.
But we must also find the ultimate causes of this tragedy and others like it, whether they be the shooter's mental health, the lack of proper treatment for the mentally ill, the exposure to violence from our popular culture, the moral decay of society at large, the breakdown of the family, our lack of parenting skills, limited social interaction caused by new technology, rising indifference, lack of compassion, or the desensitization of violence from our entertainment culture.
The time is now for serious introspection, to look carefully at what we can do to prevent these crimes, but to do so from a rational point of view not an emotional one.
The need is for real solutions based on real information rather than hollow gestures and emotional outbursts, real remedies and right cures rather than legislative placebos.
All of us hugged our children that much tighter after this terrible tragedy, but we must do more.
We must furnish them love, guidance and hope.
Michael Ramirez is Investor's Business Daily senior editor, as well as its editorial cartoonist.
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