President Obama descended upon Orlando, Florida to meet with the victims of the likely terrorist attack that killed 49 people. The president said he didn’t care about the politics of gun control, but got political anyway. He scolded Second Amendment supporters who don’t support his agenda on gun policy, saying that they should meet with the families of the victims of Newtown, adding they should tell them why they “think our liberty requires these repeated tragedies” (via White House):
Those who were killed and injured here were gunned down by a single killer with a powerful assault weapon. The motives of this killer may have been different than the mass shooters in Aurora or Newtown, but the instruments of death were so similar. And now, another 49 innocent people are dead. Another 53 are injured. Some are still fighting for their lives. Some will have wounds that will last a lifetime. We can't anticipate or catch every single deranged person that may wish to do harm to his neighbors, or his friends, or his coworkers, or strangers. But we can do something about the amount of damage that they do. Unfortunately, our politics have conspired to make it as easy as possible for a terrorist or just a disturbed individual like those in Aurora and Newtown to buy extraordinarily powerful weapons -- and they can do so legally.
Today, once again, as has been true too many times before, I held and hugged grieving family members and parents, and they asked, why does this keep happening? And they pleaded that we do more to stop the carnage. They don’t care about the politics. Neither do I. Neither does Joe. And neither should any parent out there who’s thinking about their kids being not in the wrong place, but in places where kids are supposed to be.
This debate needs to change. It’s outgrown the old political stalemates. The notion that the answer to this tragedy would be to make sure that more people in a nightclub are similarly armed to the killer defies common sense. Those who defend the easy accessibility of assault weapons should meet these families and explain why that makes sense. They should meet with the Newtown families -- some of whom Joe saw yesterday -- whose children would now be finishing fifth grade -- on why it is that we think our liberty requires these repeated tragedies. That's not the meaning of liberty.
I’m pleased to hear that the Senate will hold votes on preventing individuals with possible terrorist ties from buying guns, including assault weapons. I truly hope that senators rise to the moment and do the right thing. I hope that senators who voted no on background checks after Newtown have a change of heart. And then I hope the House does the right thing, and helps end the plague of violence that these weapons of war inflict on so many young lives.
Joe [Biden] and I were talking on the way over here -- you can't make up the world into “us” and “them,” and denigrate and express hatred towards groups because of the color of their skin, or their faith, or their sexual orientation, and not feed something very dangerous in this world.
So if there was ever a moment for all of us to reflect and reaffirm our most basic beliefs that everybody counts and everybody has dignity, now is the time. It's a good time for all of us to reflect on how we treat each other, and to insist on respect and equality for every human being.
First, Obama doesn’t care about the politics of this shooting. Who is he kidding? He said that he wouldn’t campaign for anyone who doesn’t support his agenda back in January:
Even as I continue to take every action possible as president, I will also take every action I can as a citizen. I will not campaign for, vote for or support any candidate, even in my own party, who does not support common-sense gun reform. And if the 90 percent of Americans who do support common-sense gun reforms join me, we will elect the leadership we deserve.
All of us have a role to play — including gun owners. We need the vast majority of responsible gun owners who grieve with us after every mass shooting, who support common-sense gun safety and who feel that their views are not being properly represented, to stand with us and demand that leaders heed the voices of the people they are supposed to represent.
Yet, we all know this was a terrorist attack. The killer pledged allegiance to ISIS, and posted about it on Facebook. Yet, the reason for the president to use this shooting to ban semiautomatic rifles, like the AR-15 (even though it wasn’t used in the attack), could be that Obama is hedging his bets on the progressive tilt of the gay community to put relentless pressure on Congress to do something on gun control. Nothing pays political dividends like dabbling in the toxic cesspool of identity politics. Dead children didn’t shock the nation into action. Neither did explaining to the public the non-loophole within the gun control community’s own law (Brady Bill) after Charleston. Peddling the terror watch list point is fractured when you bring up the fact that these government lists have zero due process of law. Is the president jumping for glee? No. But he does see an active political community (because anti-gunners are really all talk and no action) to maybe move the needle on this issue. Yet, that’s something to be observed over time.
For now, no, Mr. President—the debate doesn’t need to change because the Second Amendment side has more or less won. Moreover, the debate is still the same: Washington thinks the Second Amendment only applies to the government, while conservatives feel (rightly) that it's an individual right aimed at protecting us from a usurpatory government. The right to bear arms is one of our oldest civil rights—it's the law. We don’t need to reason with anyone who sees differently. This endless rant over easy access is rendered moot when you see that the Orlando killer had no prior criminal history. A renewed ban on so-called assault weapons is pointless, given that long guns are rarely used in violent acts. This is an issue about terrorism, not gun control. Once again, Obama is overreaching. I would like to unite, but you’re making it very difficult, professor—especially when you demonize law-abiding gun owners who had nothing to do with this attack.