Ken Connor

The recent spate of mass shootings has prompted President Obama and his allies in Congress to pursue new gun control laws with special urgency. Mr. Obama is correct in sensing that the American people are ready for serious action on this issue, but he is mistaken in thinking that they are in agreement with him regarding the best way to address gun violence in America. His choice to focus exclusively on guns to the virtual exclusion of mental health issues or the role of violence in the media has backfired drastically. Gun sales are at record levels, and supply can hardly keep up with demand. The President might pay lip service to gun rights, but it is obvious that his commitment to the 2nd Amendment is lukewarm at best. The American people sense this, and are responding accordingly.

Perplexing as it may be to the urbane sophisticates of America – the Ivy Leaguers and Upper West Siders and Beltway pundits – the average American cherishes their right to keep and bear arms. Gun ownership goes hand-in-hand with the spirit of rugged individualism that has characterized America since our founding, and in the face of a growing campaign to undermine that spirit, many citizens have begun stockpiling guns and ammunition. And they aren't just buying hunting rifles. Given the nature of their purchases, it is evident that many Americans are determined to arm themselves and their families against a variety of threats. They want the ability to defend themselves from predators like Adam Lanza and James Holmes, from home invasions and carjackings and muggings, and – should the day arrive – from a tyrannical government intent on exerting control over every aspect of American life.

Wisconsin Sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr., recently drew national attention for a radio address urging citizens to take an active role in protecting themselves and their families from evildoers in our society. Like many law enforcement officials across the country he recognizes that for various reasons – both legitimate and otherwise – government alone is not sufficient to protect the American people from harm. It is critical that law abiding, vigilant citizens take steps to protect themselves. "With officers laid off and furloughed," Sheriff Clarke said, "simply calling 911 and waiting is no longer your best option. . . . You could beg for mercy from a violent criminal, hide under the bed, or you can fight back."

Ken Connor

Ken Connor is Chairman of the Center for a Just Society in Washington, DC.