Several Missouri pols had their defiant statements ready to go today when President Obama announced the actions his administration had come up with to combat our gun violence crisis. Their readiness isn’t surprising given that most of their comments had little to do with the content of the president’s proposals
Gubernatorial candidate John Brunner wants you to know that he was once a marine so he’s especially prepared to to lead the charge “against attacks on our unalienable rights.” He added that a Brunner “administration will send a clear message: Any federal or state laws which infringe on our constitutional right to keep and bear arms will be immediately challenged in court. ” Whew! With all his fighting talk, he had me worried that he planned to call in the Bundy Brothers to occupy the Governor’s mansion.
Rep. Billy Long (R-7) tweeted “the president is planning to further infringe on the 2nd Amendment. We must protect our constitutional rights.” Ol’ Billy likes to keep it short and sweet when it comes to rote repetition of Republican talking points.
Rep. Sam Graves (R-6) wants you to know that “I will aggressively oppose the President as he seeks to limit the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding American people,” because, according to Graves, among other reasons, ” expanding background checks isn’t going to stop radical Islamic terrorism.” I kid you not. Did anyone think it would? Or that was what the president was aiming at with these new rules?
The comments of Senator Roy Blunt and Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-4) are the dumbest of the kneejerk panders. Rep. Hartzler smugly chastises the president, demanding that he “address ISIS & problem of mental illness rather than using shootings to infringe on rights of law abiding citizens!” Blunt strikes similar themes, stentoriously pleading with the president to “to reconsider any attempt to roll back our Constitutional rights unilaterally, and ask him instead to work with Congress to enact measures that will improve our mental health care system and help keep Americans safe.”
The glaring problem with both Blunt’s and Hartzler’s fulminations lie in the fact that the president has pulled their “mental health” hobby horse – which is in GOP hands rarely more than a deflection from the real issue of gun violence – out from under them with a plethora of proposals aimed at increasing ” mental health treatment and reporting to the background check system.” Since a major component of these measures would involve congressional approval of “a new $500 million investment to increase access to mental health care,” I sure hope both Blunt and Hartzler are ready to get on board. I also hope they’re held accountable if they aren’t – but I’m willing to lay odds that both will soon be squealing about something or other about how the President proposes to address the issue of mental illness when it intersects with gun violence.
What all these GOPers have in common is their uniform sense of outrage that the President, out of desperation, would dare attempt to address a problem that they have continuously shunted off or attempted to deflect by bringing up the separate problems of mental illness or international terrorism. None of these stalwart 2nd amendment warriors want to bother to point out just where the rather mild actions proposed by the president actually violates any Constitutional provisions. Shouldn’t Senator Blunt have to tell us just how the mostly operational “fixes” that the President has proposed would manage to “roll back” our constitutional rights – even rights so widely misunderstood as those granted in the 2nd amendment – the “militia” referred to in the amendment is, after all, to be “well-regulated.
Read the proposed rules yourself and tell me where the President violates anyone’s rights or steps on the toes of those “law-abiding” gun owners. In fact, the President backed off many actions that were expected to be part of this package because he was advised that they didn’t meet legal criteria. Obama’s a very careful guy, and a former professor of constitutional law. GOP rhetoric to the contrary, he’s less likely to overreach than just about any recent president. But on the other hand, given an obstructionist GOP congress that is in hock up to their eyeballs to the NRA, he ‘s trying to do what he can.
Ironically, given the premature GOP reaction, a significant part of what Obama does propose to do is something GOPers (including some of Missouri’s own) have self-righteously been demanding, namely, enforce current laws. For instance, under the new regulations, the FBI will make the system for processing background checks more efficient. The ATF will clarify ambiguous situations when background checks may be required – such as Internet purchases, etc.
As for ISIS – the name Republicans like to drop no matter what the topic – why should gun regulations be expected to fully address that complex and tricky problem with all its foreign relations overtones? Nor does the existence of ISIS imply that we don’t need some domestic sanity on the topic of guns. It seems to me that the place where ISIS most impinges on the problem of guns might be the unwillingness of Republicans to restrict the “rights” of folks on the do-not-fly list, by definition people suspected of ties to terrorism, to own guns.
I ask you, does any of this GOP twaddle demonstrate the type of seriousness we have a right to expect from our elected officials?