This past week, President Barack Obama went to the pool report microphones at the White House to share his reaction to the October 1 attack on Umpqua Community College by a madman who killed 8 students, a college professor and himself.
But rather than giving his usual canned remarks about his “thoughts and prayers” for the dead, injured and their families and his tired demand for more gun control laws that would prove useless in stopping a mad gunman, gang members and criminals from getting guns on the black market to commit their crimes, he led with a political statement.
He said that the “business as usual” declaration that we shouldn’t politicize a mass attack incident would no longer do and that politicizing the incident was exactly what he would do – even before the dead had been counted… the injured tended to… relatives were notified… and the police had a chance to complete their investigation of the shooter.
Obama declared that we should strengthen gun laws that only law-abiding gun owners obey… expand the National Instant Criminal Background Check system to add more groups of people to the list of “prohibited persons” banned from gun ownership and that we sweep aside the gun rights lobby (a.k.a. the National Rifle Association NRA) to “do what’s right for the country.”
Then he made a suggestion that went a step further – a “nuclear step” further – by saying what we should do is mimic Great Britain and Australia and confiscate guns in private hands. That’s what these two countries did in the mid-1990s so why not here.
The Second Amendment notwithstanding, Obama referenced the bans thus:
“We know that other countries, in response to one mass shooting, have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours — Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.”
And Obama is not the only one suggesting we confiscate guns in private hands. He is getting support in the news media too. For example, on October 1 the left leaning online website Slate wrote that:
Australia enacted their gun ban in response to an attack on April 28, 1996, wherein a gunman “opened fire on tourists in a seaside resort in Port Arthur, Tasmania.” Thirty-five were killed and 23 others wounded in the attack. Twelve days later Australia’s government banned guns, period.
The next day, another news website Vox explained how Australia:
“…confiscated 650,000 guns” via a “mandatory gun buyback” program which forced gun owners to hand their firearms over for destruction. Vox claims the result was that “murders and suicides plummeted’ and suggested such a path might be an option for America.
Vox ignored the fact that “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” began to drop in America in the mid-1990s too. But the decrease in violent crime in America did not correlate with a gun ban but with an explosion in the number of guns in private hands.
The Breitbart News Network writes that:
“The Congressional Research Service reported that the number of privately owned firearms in America went from 192 million in 1994 to 310 million privately owned firearms in 2009.”
Subsequently, the “firearm-related murder and non-negligent homicide” rate fell from 6.6 per 100,000 in 1993 to 3.6 per 100,000 in 2000 and finally to 3.2 per 100,000 in 2011.
So what is President Obama to do?
He would like to go house-to-house confiscating privately owned guns but the image of federal officers, using the addresses printed on background check forms to bang down doors and seize weapons would not look good on the evening news and could lead to violence.
The answer could be incrementalism. Using an “Executive Order”, Obama could incrementally carve out blocks of Americans – say veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (using military records) or those treated for anxiety or depression (ObamaCare records) – and begin there.
There is nothing in Obama’s history as President to rule out his habit of ignoring the rights of law-abiding Americans to get what he wants or making up or changing laws he doesn’t like.
The question is, will he invoke Executive Action to change what the Second Amendment means as he had done with ObamaCare, illegal immigrant amnesty or the nuclear deal with Iran? No one can say.
But if he does decide to begin the piecemeal confiscation of lawfully owned firearms from law-abiding gun owners, he’ll have to move fast because his term in office will end in just 16 months — more than enough time to begin the confiscation process before all American gun owners catch on.