The NZ Herald published an editorial on 9 January 2015 titled "Obama faces hard fight on gun control". In it, the author wrote the typical emotive pablum that's come to be associated with the mainstream media, in what was little more than a dissertation exhorting President Obama to ever-greater levels of tyranny.
The author is clearly utterly ignorant of either the wording or historical context of both the Constitution of the US and the Bill of Rights, specifically the Second Amendment. I would normally ignore such illiterate, uneducated rubbish and move on, but on this occasion engaged in a conversation on Twitter which prompted me to pen the following Letter to the Editor:
I am writing to take issue with your editorial "Obama faces hard fight on gun control" published 9 January. While you are correct that President Obama will face a fight over his attempt to introduce new gun-control measures, you are incorrect that these measures are desirable or will be effective. Or even lawful.
In the United States, unlike Australia, Canada, New Zealand or the UK, the federal government cannot simply pass any law it desires (the President is not constitutionally-permitted to make law at all, but Obama as ignored that little restriction for the past 7 years). The fact is the Bill of Rights cannot be amended, altered or usurped by legislation or by the President's Executive Order, no matter how many tears he lets loose.
There is a process for amending the Constitution. If, as Obama says, the "vast majority" of the American people want action taken to restrict the availability of firearms, that process should be commenced with the goal of altering or abolishing the Second Amendment. Of course, the "vast majority" exists only in Obama's head, given that every single study conducted has revealed overwhelmingly, Americans have absolutely no desire to lose their right to bear arms. There's a reason the Republicans have taken 1,000 local, state and gubernatorial seats off Democrats since Obama was elected in 2008.
Absent an amendment to the Bill of Rights, the federal government cannot restrict Americans' right to keep and bear arms. Individual States can, subject to their own Constitutions, and many have (witness the strict gun control laws in places such as Illinois, Michigan, Maryland and the District of Columbia).
The Supreme Court has previously ruled that "arms" referred to in the Second Amendment means arms in common use at the time. This is why it is almost always illegal for an individual to own, for example, a bazooka, or a fully-automatic machine-gun. The AR-15 rifle of which the media (particularly, for some strange reason, the New Zealand media) seem so afraid is a semi-automatic firearm. All this means is that squeezing the trigger will discharge one round of ammunition - you can't hold down the trigger and have multiple rounds come out. The fully-automatic weapons used by the moslem terrorists in San Bernardino, California, had been illegally modified (in the same way their pipe bombs had been illegally constructed).
And this, really, is the crux of the issue - restrictions on the lawful ownership and possession of firearms can only ever affect the law-abiding. Criminals, by their nature, do not abide by laws and therefore laws are irrelevant to them. Restricting lawful people from possessing firearms ensures a "good guy with a gun" won't be available to stop a "bad guy with a gun" (as an aside, this is why cowardly mass-murderers choose gun-free zones for their sprees).
President Obama's assertion that "no other advanced nation has these kinds of mass-shootings" is a blatant and flat-out lie. France and the US both suffered 4 mass-shooting events in 2015. The number of people killed in mass-shooting events in France in 2015 is greater than ALL people killed in mass-shooting events in the US during President Obama's entire Presidency. The Crime Prevention Research Center has published figures indicating that the US is 11th in the annual death rate from mass public shootings, comparing the US to European countries for the period 2009 - 2015, and 12th in terms of the frequency of mass public shootings.
Secondly, the restrictions Obama has placed on gun sellers would have had precisely zero effect on the mass public shootings which have occurred in the US. The so-called "gun show" loophole only applied to a very small number of sellers at gun shows - sellers for whom trading in firearms was their business were already required to hold a Federal Firearms Licence; it was only private traders who were not required to be licenced. The only crime closing the "gun-show loophole" would have prevented is that committed by the Obama Justice Department, which used "straw" purchasers to buy firearms at gun shows and traffic them to Mexican drug cartels, where they were used to slaughter countless Mexican citizens and at least one US Border Patrol Agent.
An additional fact Obama didn't mention was the number of mass-murderers who got their firearms after passing background checks. Not one of the murderers who perpetrated terror and mayhem on the American public secured their firearms either over the Internet (another Obama lie), or via the "gun show loophole".
The simple fact is if suicides are removed (let's face it, although around half of the ~40,000 suicides in the US are performed by firearm, suicidal people are both determined and inventive. If they want to end their life, they're going to do it with or without a gun) and once the black/Latino minority-on-minority genocide prevalent in war zones such as Chicago, Detroit and Baltimore are removed from the equation, the US is one of the least-violent places on earth. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control reveal of the ~32,000 deaths which occur each year from firearm (a figure which has been trending downwards over the past decade):
- 60% (19,200) are suicides
- 3% (960) are accidental
- 4% (1,280) are justified
- 33% (10,560) are homicides. 80% of homicides (8,448) are gang-related. That leaves 1,712 non-gang-related homicides.
Taking the number of gun deaths from a population of 312 million people, the average American has a 0.000102564% chance in any year of being murdered by someone using a gun. Or, if they don't hang out in the hood, or are not planning on committing suicide or a crime, their chances reduce to 0.000075487179%.
Your assertion that "No other developed country comes close to this staggering level of gun violence" is nothing less than a violent torturing of the facts and statistics to get them to admit to a conclusion to which you came before writing your editorial. Ergo, guns: bad. Obama's crybully speech outlining the latest in his long litany of usurpations of the Constitution was remarkable for the sheer number of falsehoods he elicited. There's a reason he's the most successful gun salesman in US history - he's the reason the Second Amendment was passed in the first place.
Obama said in 1996 he "... doesn't believe people should be able to own guns..." He's also supported a nationwide “ban [on] the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns” as well as a “ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons. I wonder why people don't believe him when he says he's not proposing confiscation?