In case you missed it last night. It’s a good question, enough so for Obama to acknowledge the truth of her point. Although there’s no way to listen to this part of his answer without laughing:
“Number two, what you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something we don’t celebrate enough,” he agreed. “The fact of the matter is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time. And you wouldn’t always know it from watching television.”
Remind me again, who is it who’s on TV every week or so insinuating that gun violence has never been worse and that we need to act with the utmost urgency to make access to guns harder?
While her question is good, and it’s a credit to CNN (and the White House) that a skeptic was allowed to speak at what was mainly an Obama photo op, it’s an easy point to answer if you favor more control. Just because things have gotten better doesn’t mean they can’t be better still, right? Until the murder rate is zero, which it’ll never be, it can always be lower. If you take that logic seriously, I’m not sure how it doesn’t lead you straight to total confiscation eventually. Seize the assault weapons and the murder rate might drop marginally. Seize all semiautomatics and it’ll drop more, but it still won’t be zero. There’ll never be a murder rate that’s “low enough,” in which case why not seize all pistols and rifles too? Any liberal who’s serious about not wanting to confiscate all handguns — assuming there are any liberals like that left — would do well to draw a big bright line in the sand where they think the imperative towards confiscation should end. You could draw it around the Supreme Court’s Heller decision: One handgun, kept exclusively in the home, for self-defense. You could draw it more broadly or narrowly, but until the left has incorporated a “this far and no further” limiting principle into its arguments, gun-rights advocates have every reason to think that ceding an inch is an invitation to opponents to take a mile. Both Obama and Hillary Clinton routinely mention Australia as a country whose gun policy achieved great things. That policy was a mandatory buyback, a.k.a. total confiscation. Why shouldn’t the NRA resist even minor incursions on rights like Obama’s latest executive actions when Democrats continue to keep Australia on the radar when discussing this subject?
But let’s be real. Even if Obama took my advice and drew a line on where the gun-control efforts should end, how many of us would believe him? It’s not just a matter of not trusting the left to stop pushing towards maximum statism (how many prominent backers of ObamaCare have admitted over the years that they prefer single-payer?), it’s a matter of logic. Nothing short of confiscation and a ban on future sales will put a meaningful dent in the number of gun homicides, so nothing short of confiscation and a ban will do. And since the number of guns already in circulation is so fantastically huge and getting huger by the day (thanks, Obama!), confiscation is a total practical impossibility. It’s like Trump insisting he’s going to deport all 11 million illegals, except many times more implausible. Those two facts in combination — the left must insist on a policy that can’t possibly be implemented — lend this whole debate an increasingly surreal air. Which is why I think Obama’s chief goal in all of it is simply signaling his own virtue to the left. He’s a lame duck; even if he wasn’t, he doesn’t have anywhere near the votes he’d need for congressional action on gun control; and even if he had the votes, trying to make confiscation happen in a country that loves guns as much as America does would be a hopeless catastrophe. The best he can do is show the left how much he cares. Mission accomplished, I guess?