Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

January 22, 2013

Why pass more laws and restrictions to control lawful gun owners?

By JAMES H. "SMOKEY" SHOTT
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

— There are people who are confused about our country’s founding principles, quite a few of whom are in positions to influence and dictate to others.

Jesse Jackson proposes to hold gun manufacturers responsible for what anyone who buys, borrows or steals their products might do with them. He believes that “these assault weapons can only kill people and in fact are threats to national security.”

Andrew Cuomo, the governor of New York, who proposed what he called the nation’s toughest gun ban, does not know what the Second Amendment is all about. “You don’t need 10 bullets to kill a deer,” he howled, at a recent appearance. Gov. Cuomo seems to think the Founding Fathers fought and died to guarantee our right to bear arms so we can hunt and shoot targets. A shocking number of Americans share this fallacy.

The NRA produced a TV spot pointing out that while President Obama’s children attend a school protected by armed guards, the president does not support that same protection for other children. White House spokesman Jay Carney condemned the NRA for using the president’s children in pursuit of their agenda, a willful distortion of what the NRA did, which was merely alluding to the security issue.

However, only hours later Mr. Obama festooned himself with children as he announced measures and proposed new laws to restrict the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans in reaction to the mass killing of students and staff in Sandy Hook, Conn.

Prior to Mr. Obama’s enacting increased background checks, privacy intrusions, etc., Vice President Joe Biden in a meeting with gun-rights organizations said that “we simply don’t have the time or manpower to prosecute everybody who lies on a form, that checks a wrong box, that answers a question inaccurately,” but his task force then recommended that Congress pass additional laws for the government to enforce.

The president said on the campaign trail in 2008, “I will not take your shotgun away. I will not take your rifle away. I will not take your handgun away.” This statement, along with other statements and actions, illustrates his confused notion of how the U.S. government is designed. He is only the president of the United States, not its emperor, and there are two other branches of government that are co-equal with the executive branch. He also seems not to realize that the American people pay him to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” not alter it to his liking.

In addition to guaranteeing Americans a broad range of personal rights, such as free expression and to own weapons sufficient to ward off tyrants and thugs, the Founders established a system of checks and balances to prevent any of the three co-equal branches of government from gaining too much power. You would expect someone claiming to have been a constitutional law professor to understand this.

The tragic murders of 20 children and six adults at the Sandy Hook school has proved to be too tempting a morsel for the president and his fellow Second Amendment enemies to resist. Rahm Emanuel’s “Chicago crisis rule” still holds: the Sandy Hook crisis has not been wasted.

The first information reported about the incident was that an “assault weapon” was used at Sandy Hook, and that was enough to launch a new fusillade of gun control rhetoric and proposed measures to end such violence once and for all. However, more than a month after the horrific shooting conflicting information about whether an “assault weapon” was even used at Sandy Hook has finally leaked out. NBC News’ Pete Williams reported that, in fact, four handguns were found in the school, and the only “assault weapon” anywhere around was found in the trunk of a car. And what about rumors of a second person arrested there?

What actually happened at Sandy Hook? We don’t really know. Reporting of the incident by an incurious media has greatly helped the emotional reaction to the shooting overpower sober and rational analysis, and the mania to ban “assault weapons” has been reborn.

It’s easy to blame weapons and move on, believing the problem is solved. But the easiest solution is often wrong, which is the case where mass murders are concerned. The problem with focusing on “assault weapons,” even if one was used in these horrible incidents, is that it ignores the true problem: what motivated some nut-job to kill lots of people?

The one thing common to all mass killings — shootings, bombings or whatever — is one or more persons filled with evil intent or who is/are mentally unstable, or both. “Assault weapons,” or rocket launchers, or M1 Abrams tanks in the hands of 99.9 percent of Americans would result in zero deaths. You do not increase the security of the people by restricting the rights of law-abiding citizens.

Our forefathers paid too high a price to guarantee our personal liberty to sacrifice some of it in a vain attempt to fix a problem that is not caused by the people having too much liberty.

Once lost, it is difficult, perhaps impossible, to regain.

James H. “Smokey” Shott, a resident of Bluefield, Va., is a Daily Telegraph columnist.