Thursday, January 17, 2013

Obama Takes on Gun Extremists

It will be interesting to see if Barack Obama holds his resolve to push through meaningful control measured that should have the support of all but the most extreme gun fanatics and the political prostitutes of the NRA in Congress.  It will likewise be interesting to see whether moderates will get off their asses and make it clear to members of Congress that they need to enact gun control legislation or else facing the wrath of the NRA will be the least of the politicos' worries.  This needs to be a real come to Jesus moment for Republicans who are only too happy to regulation the womb and police the bedroom, but who prostitute themselves all too readily to the NRA and the gun manufacturers who finance it.  A column in the Washington Post looks at the coming political fight.  Here are excerpts:

President Obama went big in offering a remarkably comprehensive plan to curb gun violence, and good for him. But his announcement Wednesday is only the beginning of a protracted struggle for national sanity on firearms. Extremists have controlled the debate on guns for many years. They will do all they can to preserve a bloody status quo. The irrationality of their approach must be exposed and their power broken.

Far from acting as if his work was now done, the president made clear that he is fully invested in seeing his agenda realized — and fully prepared to lead a national movement to loosen the grip of resignation and cynicism in the face of brutality and carnage. Gun violence is not some “boutique” issue, as it is occasionally called. We are in danger of having mass shootings define us as a nation. As a people, we must rise up against this obscenity.

This fight is especially challenging for many who view themselves as “moderates” or “centrists.” Moderation is a thoroughly honorable disposition, and Obama’s proposals are moderation incarnate. By international standards, they are very cautious. The president did not call for registering all guns or confiscating assault weapons. He strongly endorsed the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Second Amendment right to bear arms. He is operating within a broad consensus about what is possible and what can work. 

An assault-weapons ban received 38 Republican votes in the House in 1994 and is backed by 58 percent of Americans, according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll. Were those Republicans outside the mainstream? And what about that 58 percent of Americans? The poll also found that 65 percent favored a ban on high-capacity magazines, another part of the Obama plan, and 86 percent favored closing the gun-show loophole, part of the effort to make sure there are background checks for all gun purchases.

But the lobbies that purport to speak for gun owners (while actually representing the interests of gun manufacturers) don’t care what the public thinks.

Too often, moderation has become a synonym for cowardice. Too often, moderates lack the guts to define the sensible middle of the road themselves — as Obama has done on the gun issue — and then to defend it. Instead, they yield to the temptation to calibrate where everyone else stands before deciding what they believe. This allows extremists who lack any shame to drag our discourse off the road entirely, into a ditch of unreason, fear and invective.

[T]he NRA’s vile new advertisement that uses Secret Service protection for the president’s daughters to make a small-minded political point .  .  .  .  .  tells us all we need to know, that the gun lobby is deeply afraid of the facts and the evidence. This is why one of the most important actions the president took was to end the ban on research into gun violence by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,

He [Obama] acknowledged that the battle ahead would be difficult. He predicted he would have to fight the lie that his plan constituted “a tyrannical assault on liberty.” And he sought to mobilize a new effort to counteract the entrenched power of those who have dictated submissiveness in the face of bloodshed. “Enough,” Obama declared, insisting that change would come only “if the American people demand it.” Will we?

I hope readers will contact their members of Congress and make it clear that they need to support the President's proposals or face the consequences in 2014.

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