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For the Children

Jan 28, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 19
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In arguing for stricter gun control, the White House has a fundamental problem: The facts simply aren’t on its side. Gun ownership has increased in this country for decades even as gun violence has fallen. And the remedies currently being discussed are either ominous—encouraging doctors to harass their patients about gun ownership—or have been tried before without demonstrable success. Both the Columbine, Colo., spree and the 1998 school shooting in Springfield, Ore., that killed 2 and wounded 25 occurred when bans on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines were in effect. With the White House pushing a liberal gun control agenda that’s out of step with even a large swath of the Democratic base, it quickly became evident that the administration’s entire strategy boils down to accusing its opponents of not caring enough about children.

the president holds a child

The night before the Obama administration announced its gun proposals, it released a series of letters written by children asking the White House to do something about guns. As if this wasn’t enough, Obama invited only children—not members of Congress—to the signing of his executive order on guns the next day, where he proceeded to hug them for the cameras. He then followed that up by putting footage on the White House’s YouTube channel of children reading their gun control letters to the president. The videos were taken against an austere black background; had the children been holding up a copy of that day’s newspaper, you might have mistaken them for hostage videos.

Were these precocious activists worth listening to? You be the judge: “Please don’t let people own machine guns or other powerful guns like that,” writes 8-year-old Grant. Another child, an 11-year-old named, yes, Julia, writes: “I know that laws have to be passed by Congress but I beg you to try very hard to make guns not allowed.” We do hope that someone at the White House took the time to inform these two children that machine guns have been illegal to own, with a few incredibly narrow exemptions, since the early part of the 20th century and that the Second Amendment flatly states the federal government can’t “make guns not allowed.” (In her defense, young Julia attends school in the District of Columbia, so she’s surrounded by adults who have taught her it’s okay to disregard the Constitution.)

But as reported by the National Journal under the headline “Obama’s New Frame: Gun Rights vs. the Right to Life,” Obama’s obnoxious grandstanding with regard to children may have reached its zenith with this comment: “That most fundamental set of rights to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness—fundamental rights that were denied to college students at Virginia Tech, and high school students at Columbine, and elementary school students in Newtown, and kids on street corners in Chicago on too frequent a basis to tolerate, and all the families who’ve never imagined that they’d lose a loved one to a bullet—those rights are at stake.”

To summarize, a few days shy of the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the president who voted against the “Born Alive Infant Protection Act” because not allowing infanticide isn’t sufficiently pro-choice is now saying that opponents of rash and ineffective gun-control measures aren’t pro-life. Perfect. 

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