Want to get to the absolute highlight of Obama’s Town Hall discussion about guns? Go to the one-hour mark of the video and listen to how he responds to a question from Mark Kelly about the alleged desire on the President’s part to take away everyone’s guns. I’m not going to tell you what he said, but I will say that his response effectively demolished one of the NRA’s most sacred talking-points, namely, the idea that any gun-control laws will lead to registration, which will lead to confiscation, which will lead to fascism, which will lead to God knows what. And the reason he demolished it was the same reason why he presented a remarkably-effective argument about gun violence in general; namely, because the entire event allowed him to focus everything he said on the average American for whom concerns about gun violence are, at best, a passing thing.
When do most of us think about gun violence? When there’s a horrific shooting at San Bernardino, Umpqua or Sandy Hook. Beyond that, the 84 gun deaths that occur every day get little, if any attention at all. And when there is a response from Washington, the pro-gun gang can ramp up the energies of the folks who believe that aliens landed at Area 51 and get them to yell and shriek about how nobody’s going to take away their guns. And if you think I’m overdoing it, take a look at Wayne-o’s video message which begins with the claim that the Federal Government “would disarm us during the Age of Terror.”
So it was really refreshing to hear Obama answer questions, a majority of which came from pro-gun men and women, all of whom politely told the President that they didn’t believe his proposals would necessarily achieve his own goals, namely, reducing gun violence by keeping guns out of the wrong hands. And because he was answering questions from folks who clearly were not on the GVP side, this gave him the opportunity to reach out not to the community that is already convinced that guns pose a risk, but to the much larger community of folks whose minds may not yet be made up.
Of course the immediate response from the pro-gun gang, predictably, was that the President had once again failed to get anything positive done. As the Town Hall was ending, CNN switched to a quick comment from conservative mouthpiece Hugh Hewitt, who called the President’s performance ‘disappointing’ and ‘divisive,’ and this was followed by Wayne-o’s lapdog, Chris Cox, who told Megyn Kelly that “this President’s no longer credible to speak to the issues of law-abiding gun owners.” I wasn’t surprised that the NRA declined an invitation to attend; about the last thing Wayne-o will do is debate, quietly and objectively, his loony claim about how America’s Number One Liberal wants to take away all the guns.
Again and again the President made the point that none of his actions would ‘solve’ the issue of gun violence; his actions would have small, incremental results at best. The most powerful moment was when he said, “I know we aren’t going to end 30,000 gun deaths each year. But what if we can reduce that number by two thousand? Those are two thousand families that don’t have to bear the tragedy and heartbreak of losing someone to a bullet.”
This is when all the shrieking about the 2nd Amendment begins to lose its effect. Because now the President is talking about something that the average person, gun owner or not, can understand. CNN may have wanted the NRA to attend the Town Hall, but Obama’s couldn’t have cared less. He knows he’s wasting his time trying to convince the Area 51 crowd that he isn’t trying to grab their guns. It’s the rest of us who want solid, believable answers and solutions to the problems we face every day. When it comes to the problem of gun violence, Obama talked the talk.