Jewish World Review July 25, 2012/ 6 Menachem-Av, 5772
Obama's Gun Baloney
By Roger Simon
Now, in front of the cameras and a small crowd Sunday, he stood in a blue suit, with no tie, his shirt collar open. It was about 8:45 p.m. East Coast time, and there was the beginning of stubble on his chin.
It was not his words that got to me, though they were simple and powerful: "Scripture says that 'He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.'"
No, it was a few minutes later, when Obama described a teenager who had been shot in the neck by a bullet, and Obama put his hand to his throat to mark the spot and, as he kept talking, let his fingers linger there.
It was wrenching, touching, dramatic, sincere.
Not baloney because he was not moved by the terrible violence, not baloney because he did not feel for all the dead, their loved ones and the survivors. No, all those things were real to him.
What was baloney is that he intends to do nothing about preventing it in the future.
His White House press secretary had announced as much to reporters on Air Force One on the flight to Colorado. Jay Carney said Obama "believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons."
That "existing law" was painfully inadequate to protect the 70 people who had been shot in a movie theater was obvious to all. All except for politicians running for re-election, that is.
Mitt Romney is no better. Having opposed "deadly assault weapons" as governor of Massachusetts in 2004, he now does "not support any new legislation of an assault weapon ban nature."
But he, too, said he was "deeply saddened" by the Aurora shootings. Just not deeply saddened enough to promise to do anything about future shootings.
The political analyses followed the killings by only a few hours:
Reuters: "Colorado shooting unlikely to spur changes in gun laws."
The Atlantic: "Why the Aurora Shooting Won't Affect Gun Laws."
CBS News: "Calls for gun control stir little support."
The Wall Street Journal: "Few politicians call for gun-control changes after Colorado killings."
The headlines were reflecting political reality, a political reality in which our politicians believe two things: They have a right to a lifetime job, and bucking the gun lobby will deprive them of that.
They are wrong on both counts. They serve only as long as we let them, and the power of the gun lobby is vastly, absurdly, tragically overrated.
Bill Clinton took it on and won. Clinton urged Congress to pass the Brady Bill, which required background checks for gun buyers, and signed it into law in 1993. He signed an assault weapons ban in 1994. He opposed "cop killer" bullets in 1995. "I have never seen a deer, a duck or a wild turkey wearing a Kevlar vest in my life," Clinton said.
And Clinton was re-elected in 1996. He turned gun control into a mainstream issue by surrounding himself at event after event with men and women in blue uniforms, America's fiercest gun-control supporters: police officers.
Today, nobody wants to take the political risk. They want to make somber statements instead of taking tough action.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, an outspoken gun control advocate, said that while the sympathy expressed by Obama and Romney "is nice," it is not enough.
"It's time for both of them to be called, held accountable," Bloomberg told Bob Schieffer on CBS. "Yes, we have great sympathy for the families, but it's time for this country to do something. And that's the job of the president of the United States."
Forget about it. Mitt Romney will not buck his own party. And Barack Obama will not risk even a single vote, instead preferring to talk about "Second Amendment rights."
If elected to a second term, would Obama be more free to do the right thing about gun control? Theoretically. But Congress would still lie in his path.
The death tolls mount, effective gun control remains a dream, and Congress is where dreams go to die.
Just like the victims in Aurora. And Blacksburg. And Columbine. And all the rest.
When it comes to guns, there are cowards out there. Not just the shooters. But also the politicians who enable them.
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© 2009, Creators Syndicate