Obama’s proposal is expected to include a call for banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, as well as strengthening the background check system for gun buyers. While Congress would have to approve those major steps, he may also lay out 19 actions he can take by executive order, such as mandating that federal agencies gather data on gun safety.
In the wake of the schoolroom massacre in Newtown, Conn., and many other brutal gun-related tragedies in recent months, ideas for dealing with school safety and mental illness are also said to be on Obama’s list. But most of the attention will be directed at his gun control plan, and much of it will be hotheaded and shrill.
The usual gun rights lunatics are preemptively saying it may be necessary to take up arms to stop the government from confiscating everyone’s guns. Rabid rocker Ted Nugent has declared Obama’s proposals “psychotic” and said putting Vice President Joe Biden and Atty. Gen. Eric Holder in charge of the task force to come up with gun legislation is comparable to “hiring Jeffrey Dahmer to tell us how to take care of our children.”
Although assault weapons have been banned in the past without a loss of liberty, and no regulation Obama is considering comes close to negating the right to keep and bear arms, one congressman from Texas said he would push impeachment of the president for trying to nullify the 2nd Amendment.
Tea party hero Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky equated Obama’s proposed administrative actions with the monarchy of King George III and pledged to fight the president “tooth and nail” as if 2013 were 1776.
Clearly, the debate about guns is not going to be a reasoned discussion about how to better regulate the hundreds of millions of guns in America and keep them out of the hands of criminals and crazy people. At least on the right, it will be an exercise in paranoia and fear-mongering.
Meanwhile, in the sane state of New York, Republican and Democratic legislators have joined together to pass new gun restrictions that will ban high-capacity magazines, strictly limit ownership of assault weapons and ban their sale online. They did it quickly in a bipartisan fashion and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law on Tuesday. So far, the Empire State shows no sign of turning into a Stalinist nightmare. Other than the significant exceptions of Illinois and Michigan, gun deaths are generally lower in states, such as California, that have strict guns laws. New York was on that list even before this newest law was passed.
Of the annual 30,000 gun deaths in the U.S., only 200 are homicides resulting from acts of self-defense, according to the FBI. Still, no one is talking about stripping away the right of anyone to own a gun to scare off a prowler or hold off a rapist (even though most people shot by guns in homes are relatives and friends). The only types of gun anyone is talking about restricting are the assault rifles that former Gens. Colin Powell and Stanley McChrystal say should only be in the hands of soldiers -- the kind of weapon used by a mentally unstable young man to murder first-graders in Newtown.
But folks on the right disagree with the generals. Apparently, that is the kind of weapon they think they may desperately need in the event of civil war against the would-be monarch in the White House.