Our Mean-Spirited President Gives a Press Conference and Talks About Guns

Barack Obama gave a press conference today; Paul reported on Obama’s discussion of the debt ceiling a little while ago. Obama’s comments on the debt ceiling were breathtakingly dishonest: he admitted that there is a long history of budget negotiations accompanying past increases in the ceiling, and acknowledged that he himself voted against increasing the debt limit as a senator, even though it would have led to the same supposedly awful consequences he complained about today. But Obama said, at least three or four times, that this year is different: he refuses to negotiate with the Republicans because they insist on “getting 100 percent of what they want.”

But wait! The fact that Republicans are willing to negotiate means that they aren’t insisting on getting 100%, while, conversely, the fact that Obama refuses to negotiate means that he is the one holding out for 100%. Presumably most people are smart enough to understand this.

The second major topic of the press conference was “gun violence” and the administration’s forthcoming proposals relating thereto. Here, too, the president was a dishonest demagogue:

Q I wanted to ask about gun violence.  Today marks the one-year — or one-month anniversary of the shooting in Newtown, which seemed to generate some momentum for reinstating the assault weapons ban.  But there’s been fresh opposition to that ban from the NRA.  And even Harry Reid has said that he questions whether it could pass Congress.  Given that, how hard will you push for an assault weapons ban?  And if one cannot pass Congress, what other measures would need to be included in a broad package in order to curb gun violence successfully?

Note the implicit assumption that a ban on “assault weapons” is a good idea that would “curb gun violence successfully.” In fact, there is no such thing as an “assault weapon.” The silly “assault weapons” ban that was in effect from 1994 to 2004 was mostly a laughingstock and did zero good. Hardly anyone wanted to reinstate it when it expired. Obama’s response acknowledged none of this:

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, as I said, the Vice President and a number of members of my Cabinet went through a very thorough process over the last month, meeting with a lot of stakeholders in this including the NRA, listened to proposals from all quarters, and they’ve presented me now with a list of sensible, common-sense steps that can be taken to make sure that the kinds of violence we saw at Newtown doesn’t happen again.

That’s ridiculous. There is nothing the government can do that will “make sure that the kinds of violence we saw at Newtown doesn’t happen again.” In fact, nothing that the administration is now contemplating, including reinstating the “assault weapons” ban, would have prevented the Newtown massacre. “Assault weapons,” as previously defined in federal law, are already illegal in Connecticut.

My starting point is not to worry about the politics; my starting point is to focus on what makes sense, what works; what should we be doing to make sure that our children are safe and that we’re reducing the incidents of gun violence.  And I think we can do that in a sensible way that comports with the Second Amendment.

And then members of Congress I think are going to have to have a debate and examine their own conscience — because if, in fact — and I believe this is true — everybody across party lines was as deeply moved and saddened as I was by what happened in Newtown, then we’re going to have to vote based on what we think is best.  We’re going to have to come up with answers that set politics aside.  And that’s what I expect Congress to do.

This is just boilerplate; but it is deeply dishonest boilerplate. Barack Obama has never once in his life “set politics aside.” And the Democrats’ focus is not on “what works.” If it were, they wouldn’t be talking about a reprise of the failed “assault weapons” ban or the even more absurd limitation on magazine size. Also, Obama fails to acknowledge that “incidents of gun violence,” and the murder rate in general, have been in decline for some time, probably as a result, in part, of liberalized concealed carry laws. The fact is that we are already doing a number of things right; things that the Democrats have, for the most part, opposed.

But what you can count is, is that the things that I’ve said in the past — the belief that we have to have stronger background checks, that we can do a much better job in terms of keeping these magazine clips with high capacity out of the hands of folks who shouldn’t have them, an assault weapons ban that is meaningful — that those are things I continue to believe make sense.

Again, the president talks nonsense. There is no such thing, as we get tired of pointing out, as a “magazine clip.” Obama obviously knows as little about firearms as he does about the economy. Nor is there any possibility of an “assault weapons ban” being “meaningful,” since there is no such thing as an “assault weapon,” except as defined in prior legislation that turned out to be anything but meaningful. 

Later in the press conference we had this exchange:

Q. Thank you, Mr. President.  On the issue of guns, given how difficult it will be — some would say impossible — to get any gun control measure passed through this Congress, what are you willing or able to do, using the powers of your presidency, to act without Congress?  And I’d also like to know, what do you make of these long lines we’re seeing at gun shows and gun stores all around the country?  I mean, even in Connecticut, applications for guns are up since the shooting in Newtown.

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, my understanding is the Vice President is going to provide a range of steps that we can take to reduce gun violence.  Some of them will require legislation.  Some of them I can accomplish through executive action. And so I’ll be reviewing those today.  And as I said, I’ll speak in more detail to what we’re going to go ahead and propose later in the week.

But I’m confident that there are some steps that we can take that don’t require legislation and that are within my authority as President.  And where you get a step that has the opportunity to reduce the possibility of gun violence then I want to go ahead and take it. 

Q    Any idea of what kind of steps?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think, for example, how we are gathering data, for example, on guns that fall into the hands of criminals, and how we track that more effectively — there may be some steps that we can take administratively as opposed through legislation.

This is classic Obama incoherence. Does the federal government gather data on “guns that fall into the hands of criminals”? Not that I know of; it would be a good trick. Obama suggests we can “track…more effectively” guns that are obtained by criminals. How? Is he talking about a domestic Fast and Furious program? Eric Holder, call your office! None of this, of course, has anything to do with guns falling into the hands of demented but previously non-criminal people like Adam Lanza.

As far as people lining up and purchasing more guns, I think that we’ve seen for some time now that those who oppose any common-sense gun control or gun safety measures have a pretty effective way of ginning up fear on the part of gun owners that somehow the federal government is about to take all your guns away.  And there’s probably an economic element to that.  It obviously is good for business.

This is simply outrageous. Obama suggests that people who are buying guns because they think they might be banned are irrational, and that their concerns have been “ginned up” by people who have an “economic” motive, presumably gun manufacturers and dealers. But the guns that are flying off the shelves are mostly AR-15 rifles, which Obama desperately wants to ban as “assault weapons” if he can muster the votes. And the other items that are being snapped up across the country–some reports indicate that prices have quintupled–are normal-capacity magazines, which Obama acknowledged today that he wants to ban. So the concerns of gun owners are anything but irrational.

I think we have had worse presidents than Barack Obama; James Buchanan comes to mind. But I don’t think we have ever had a president as shamelessly dishonest as Barack Obama.

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