Shall we use reason in debating and deciding our laws? Or better to employ only our emotion?
According to much of Washington officialdom (and media) the answer is: emotion.
“I want to make sure every American is listening today,” President Barack Obama said last week, reminding his audience of the Newtown school shooting, where last December a young mentally-ill man murdered 20 children and six adults. “Less than 100 days ago that happened. And the entire country was shocked. And the entire country pledged we would do something about it and that this time would be different.”
“Shame on us if we’ve forgotten,” added the president.
Of course, Mr. Obama is ever-so-slightly over-stating his case that somehow “the entire country pledged” to support his and California Senator Dianne Feinstein’s plethora of new gun regulations, including banning certain firearms. That doesn’t even quite jive with his incessant demonizing of the National Rifle Association and the supposedly all-powerful “gun lobby” as the forces blocking change (and lacking any redeeming human emotion).
In fact, Obama’s featured fealty to feelings was in deliberate response to polling, which shows support for stricter gun control laws has dropped precipitously – from 57 percent of Americans immediately after the shooting at the Newtown, Connecticut, elementary school to just 47 percent now. In fact, 50 percent in that same CBS News poll question want gun laws “Kept as they are” or made “Less strict.”
Last week, even before Obama’s emotional plea to embrace American emotionalism, I informed the rational readers of my Common Sense e-letter not to fret about New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blowing $12 million to launch attack ads against U.S. Senators in 13 states, who are unsupportive of the mayor’s and the president’s gun-grabbing agenda.
Apparently, Mayor Bloomberg isn’t satisfied breaking his term limits pledge like a dictator, or outlawing soft drinks like a nanny; he feels it necessary, and even public-spirited, to also undermine our Second Amendment rights.
On this issue, this time, at least, he’s spending his own money.
Which is illuminating on the issues of both money and guns: Bloomberg is worth $27 billion. But, when he spends it to convince Americans on an issue, it remains the public that decides – not Bloomberg. As National Rifle Association head Wayne LaPierre ably put it on NBC’s Meet the Press, Bloomberg “can’t buy America.”
No, Bloomberg’s rented megaphone won’t convince Americans, because we are not mindless automatons programmed by 30-second television ads.
We make up our own minds. And not just according to the passions of the moment.
Reacting to President Obama’s statement on MSNBC’s Jansing & Co., host Chris Jansing asked Josh Marshall, founder and editor of Talking Points Memo, “Does [the president] think emotion is going to help this cause?”
“I think it’s the only thing that can,” Marshall answered. “This issue, guns and opposition to any kind of new regulation of guns, seems to be as powerful as it’s ever been, as though nothing’s really changed from three months ago.”
The American people were deeply and emotionally moved by the horrible school massacre in Newtown, but, simply put, Americans have not been rationally convinced that the gun control agenda pushed by President Obama, Bloomberg and others is helpful to public safety or respectful of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
Reasonable people take into account facts that lie outside the horror of one event’s official narrative. Facts like:
- Murder rates by guns have declined since their high point in the very early 1990s. Dramatically.
- Mass shootings are not actually increasing in frequency.
- If you take away black-on-black crime, U.S. murder rates are amongst the lowest in the world, making the focus on America’s gun tradition a little off point — it’s the cultural and economic degradation of African-America sub-cultures that constitutes the real problem.
- Much of the focus of the latest round of gun regulation has been on inconsistently defined “assault weapons,” which have little to do with most gun violence.
Still, the president implores, “We need everybody to remember how we felt a hundred days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn’t just a bunch of platitudes — that we meant it.”
In other words, let’s allow emotion to overrule our rational faculties and pass whatever gun control laws are proposed in the wake of the horrible Newtown, Connecticut, school massacre (even when the policy being advanced would admittedly make no difference in preventing a future Newtown).
Why? We must do so to symbolically pay proper homage to the dead, and to save Barack Obama and much of the Washington-ensconced political class from being reduced to a “bunch of platitudes.” [further reading]
March 31, 2013
This column first appeared on Townhall.com.