Admitting that passing his ambitious plan to rein in shooting incidents such as the one that occurred in Newtown, Connecticut, last month would “be difficult,” President Obama published a 22-page explanation of exactly what he has in mind. There are “four common-sense steps we can take right now,” according to the White House blog. The two steps meeting the most resistance are:
1. Closing background check loopholes to keep guns out of dangerous hands, and
2. Banning military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
Highlights of his plan include requiring background checks for all gun sales, reinstating and strengthening the assault weapons ban, restoring the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines and getting rid of armor-piercing bullets. The paper went on to explain why:
Right now, federally licensed firearms dealers are required to run background checks on those buying guns, but studies estimate that nearly 40 percent of all gun sales are made by private sellers who are exempt from this requirement. As the President said following the Newtown tragedy, keeping guns out of the wrong hands starts with legislation to require background checks for all gun sales….
Several recent mass shootings involved high-capacity ammunition magazines that were prohibited from 1994 to 2004. Many of the mass shooters used the type of semiautomatic rifles that were the target of the assault weapons ban. It is time for Congress to renew the 10-round limit on magazines, and reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban….
The President also is calling for legislation to finish the job of getting armor piercing bullets off the streets by prohibiting the possession and transfer of this dangerous ammunition, in addition to its manufacture and import.
This is just the beginning but it is enough to cause supporters of the Second Amendment to begin to push back. The first level of resistance is a healthy and clear understanding of exactly what the Second Amendment does, and no one explained it better than Judge Andrew Napolitano:
The Constitution expressly prohibits all governments from infringing upon the right of the people to keep and bear arms. This permits us to defend ourselves when the police can’t or won’t, and it permits a residue of firepower in the hands of the people with which to stop any tyrant who might try to infringe upon our natural rights, and it will give second thoughts to anyone thinking about tyranny.
Right now a lot of people are thinking about tyranny and the proposed gun ban, including Larry Pratt, head of Gun Owners of America. In an interview on CNN, Pratt said such legislation is so far outside of what the Founders intended that it “changes the game and throws into question the legitimacy of the federal government.” Former Congressman Ron Paul said that “these are dictatorial moves; they are very, very dangerous.” He added,
I don’t think the American people will turn in their semi-automatic guns. I've always assumed that the line in the sand may well be drawn if federal agents march in unannounced and they say “Give us your guns….”
I don’t think they’ll be able to do that calmly. I think the American people will highly resent it and [will] resist.
Former presidential candidate Chuck Baldwin drew his own “line in the sand,” writing one of the most popular and widely circulated columns in his years as a conservative commentator. He wrote,
Citizens like you and me must be willing to draw our personal line in the sand on this issue and refuse to comply with any law requiring us to register or surrender our firearms — including our semi-automatic rifles.
Ladies and gentlemen, whatever the consequences might be, and whatever anyone else does or doesn't do, I am prepared to become an outlaw over this issue!
I don’t know how to say it any plainer: I will not register my firearms, and I will not surrender my firearms. Period. End of story. It’s not just a saying with me: when my guns are outlawed, I will be an outlaw!
There are many levels of resistance against Obama’s plan that would have to give way before Baldwin becomes an outlaw, however. Officials in cities and states are resisting with proposed legislation and are threatening court actions. Texas Attorney General Greg Abbot is ready: “ I've been to the Supreme Court twice [over these infringements]. I can tell you that these laws that try to restrict our gun rights violate the Second Amendment guarantee of the right to keep and bear arms. The U.S. Supreme Court has spoken on this issue twice.”
And Richard Mack, former sheriff of Graham County, Arizona, and author of From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns, says that sheriffs form the initial line of defense against such incursions. He said, “Sheriffs need to be united in letting the federal government know that we’re not going to allow it.… If the federal government wants to start a new Civil War, all they need to do is go ahead with gun confiscation.”
States such as Wyoming and Indiana have already proposed legislation that would protect their citizens from federal enforcement of such laws inside their boundaries. And on the local level, police chiefs, such as Mark Kessler of Gilberton Borough, Pennsylvania, are urging legislators to pass laws nullifying the Obama ban. Explained Kessler,
We want to nullify any and all rules, regulations, and acts against the Second Amendment or our freedoms. We need to say this is unconstitutional.… We're not going to stand for this anymore.
There are moves afoot to impeach the president if necessary. Rep. Steve Stockman (R-Texas) said it would be one option to consider if the Obama ban becomes law: “If the president is allowed to suspend constitutional rights … our free republic has effectively ceased to exist. I will seek to thwart this action by any means necessary, including but not limited to … filing articles of impeachment.”
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has announced his plans to enter a bill to challenge any part of Obama’s plan that usurps the legislative process reserved under the Constitution to Congress.
But the final barrier against such unconstitutional infringements is the people themselves. According to the president, “Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater. A majority of Americans agree with us on this.”
Not according the Gallup Poll just released on Monday, nor the CNN poll released on Tuesday. Gallup said that although at the moment 38 percent of Americans are “dissatisfied with the nation’s gun laws … more Americans are either satisfied with current gun laws, 43%, or think they should be loosened, 5%.” And CNN’s poll revealed that only 39 percent of those polled think stricter gun control laws would reduce the amount of violence, while 61 percent think they would not. In fact, when asked by CNN about the proposal of having armed guards in public schools offered by the National Rifle Association, “more people surveyed think that his measure would reduce crime in schools than any new gun laws.”
There’s another obstacle in Obama’s way to gutting the Second Amendment: time. Anti-gun professor Robert Spitzer is afraid that the legislative process will simply take too long. There is a “window of opportunity” that is rapidly closing. According to Spitzer,
The political opportunity is a narrow window indeed. Three weeks after the Columbine shooting [in 1999], the Republican-controlled Senate approved a package of gun control measures (including closing the gun show loophole that is now a part of Obama’s plan).
The Republican-controlled House took another month, and while they could not avoid bringing the measure to the floor, the clock continued to tick.
By June 18, when the final, critical floor votes were held, the public’s attention was turning toward summer vacation. The measure was defeated, as the time delay proved fatal.
Taken altogether then, it is clear that the president has his work cut out for him to get anything passed before his “window of opportunity” closes. With each passing day, resistance to his usurpations grows, citizens are awakened from their slumber, legislators are being reminded of their oaths, and the understanding of the vital importance of the Second Amendment continues to grow.
It’s a war that the president must not win.