There's been much hand-wringing over U.S. President Barack Obama's announcement of gun-related executive actions. Few issues spark as much passion in America as gun control, and it's almost impossible to have a rational conversation about firearms these days without some people freaking out about having their guns taken away.
Nervous gun owners should take a deep breath, since tighter gun control would require government to suddenly become efficient at something.
Despite being mugged in Paris a few years ago, I don't feel naked or vulnerable because I don't carry a gun. Firearms aren't readily available in France, and there isn't much of a gun culture there. There were no guns involved in my incident. (If the perpetrators had pulled a gun, France's self-defense laws likely wouldn't have stopped me from killing someone, though I'd have preferred to use my bare hands rather than a gun of my own.) Having grown up in Canada, where there is no gun culture, my first thought during the mugging did not run automatically to "gun." Sure, some bad guys in France obtain guns, but it's tough to find them when there aren't many available.
That's not the case in the U.S., and it simply never will be.
Mutually assured destruction is at the very foundation of the U.S. Constitution and American culture. It's an interesting paradox: The U.S. has for decades sought to prevent hostile nations from obtaining weapons of mass destruction, yet many Americans find it perfectly acceptable for any nutcase to be able to legally pack heat -- even though a rogue state poses far less danger to the average American than a rogue citizen. America hasn't been nuked, but a great many people have died in gun incidents.
I don't think that Obama's new firearms measures constitute a nefarious plot to disarm America any more than I think advocating healthy eating is a plot to rip the Coke cans out of people's hands. However, it's hard to believe that the best plan this administration can come up with to combat gun violence is one that essentially dumps more cash into the pockets of government agencies.
According to the White House statement announcing the new measures, the Federal Bureau of Investigation "will hire more than 230 additional examiners and other staff" to process background checks. The Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will get another 200 enforcement agents. As if additional personnel will make an already-bloated bureaucracy more efficient.
The departments of Defense, Justice and Homeland Security get to "conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology." Why not offer huge tax incentives for firearms manufacturers to do this? Why does every new idea have to cost the taxpayer money?
An extra $500 million of proposed funding will go toward increasing access to mental health care. Maybe mental health care would already be accessible and affordable if Americans didn't have sky-high health care premiums as a result of the health care lobby being in cahoots with the Washington establishment.
A new rule will require background checks for the purchase of weapons at gun shows or through a trust or corporation. Yet one of the most critical elements of the whole plan is being dumped into the laps of the individual states. According to the White House statement, "Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch has sent a letter to states highlighting the importance of receiving complete criminal history records and criminal dispositions, information on persons disqualified because of a mental illness, and qualifying crimes of domestic violence."
The federal government will be able to line the pockets of its agencies under the guise of hiring, outreach, customer service and technological innovation -- things that the government is generally pretty awful at doing, and that are rarely improved or streamlined with additional money. Meanwhile, the foundation of the proposed gun control measures -- determining who's fit to own a gun -- is left to state governments.
So, American gun owners, you can sit back, clean your firearms and relax, knowing that the government is too awash in bureaucracy and ineptitude to get to you anytime soon.