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How long is too long to wait to defend the Second Amendment?
by Chad D. Baus
This year marks my tenth year as a Second Amendment writer. Throughout the years, I've covered far too many multiple victim public shootings.
Buckeye Firearms Association has always sought to be sensitive to the fact that these aren't just news stories - they are real victims with real families grieving painful losses. Unfortunately, in the hyper (and hyper-political) news cycle in which we live, there no longer seems to be any concern for giving time for the families (and the country) to pay their respects.
When once we criticized gun ban extremists for seeking to make political points before the bodies had been buried, it is now more accurate to criticize them for exploiting such events before the spilled blood has had time to dry.
In the case of the Aurora movie theater attack, the blame game from anti-gun media began very early indeed. Opponents of the Second Amendment were issuing press releases and going on the air within HOURS after news of the attack broke.
At 8:17 AM Eastern, ABC News' Brian Ross suggested a TEA Party connection - only about six hours after the attack. (ABC apparently didn't think to check Occupy websites, even though the spree killer's actions far more closely mirror those violent groups.) They apologized less than two hours later, but by then it was open season.
The U.S. Conference of Mayors issued a press release at 11:14 AM - only about nine hours after the attack itself, and only a few hours after most people woke up and became aware of it:
"While we don't yet have all of the facts in the case, we do know that all evidence this morning points to a heavily armed assailant now in police custody. While questions about his motives and about how he obtained his weapons will be answered in the hours and days ahead, the fact remains that once again guns have been used in a mass killing of innocent people.
"The U.S. Conference of Mayors is repeating its call for reasonable changes in our gun laws and regulations that could help to prevent senseless tragedies such as the one that has rocked Aurora and the nation this morning."
Those remarks were followed at 12:59:53 PM by the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence (CSGV):
Sadly, there is nothing novel about this tragedy. It is yet another massacre perpetuated by a homicidal maniac who was given easy access to lethal, military-style firepower.
The pro-gun movement has told us that bloodbaths like Aurora are the price we must pay to guarantee freedom and individual liberty in the United States. Rational Americans should reject such radical ideology and demand immediate reform of our gun laws.
The truth is that there is no greater threat to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" than the wanton gun violence that continues to destroy American families and communities. Until our legislators stand up to the extreme leadership of the National Rifle Association and enact laws to assure the thorough screening of gun buyers, tragedies like Aurora will continue to haunt America. It is long past time to put public safety back on the agenda in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislatures.
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence was "late" by comparison, waiting a whole 24 hours before issuing a statement:
Congress has done nothing since the mid-1990s to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. We pledge to keep fighting the NRA and entire gun lobby in an effort to strengthen our background checks to include all firearm purchases, ban assault clips with large magazines that enable mass killers, and to make it more difficult to obtain concealed carry permits.
Every person who agrees with us needs to contact their individual representatives and senators and let them know you are outraged over their caving to the gun lobby. Do it today and do it often in the future. Letters to your local newspaper are a big help as well. Be sure to get your friends and families involved in our efforts too.
We can win this fight, with your voices and your action."
Also on Saturday, Mexican president Felipe Calderon tweeted a call for new gun control laws - in the United States! (The Twitter character limit was apparently too restrictive for him to explain why his country's strict gun control has failed to quell violence there.)
Polling phone calls began also began very soon after the attack, as media scrambled to see if this would finally be the event they could use to turn the tide against the Second Amendment. (Hint: it isn't.)
On Monday, before even one funeral had been held, a group of eleven people staged a protest outside the NRA's federal office in our nation's capital. (see photo)
And on Tuesday, just four days after the event, CNN published an article entitled 'Fear drives opposition to gun control', which contained many false or misleading statistics about the "dangers" of gun ownership, and concluded with this:
In the land of the Second Amendment, nobody will take your guns away. But if you love your children, you should get rid of them voluntarily.
These are only a few examples. The truth is, the airwaves, newspapers, and Internet have been a cacophony of anti-gun rhetoric since the first hours after the attack occurred.
Each time there is another such attack, we are forced to weigh the dangers of responding too quickly against the dangers of waiting too long. While there was once a time when withholding comment out of respect for those affected was possible, given this media environment, we've reached a point where waiting several days to publish an article, as we did, is almost "too long," if we want to beat back the attacks.
And so, several years ago, we made the decision at Buckeye Firearms Association to respond when a response was necessary. Other pro-gun organizations and writers have also begun this practice, and I believe one of the reasons for Aurora-related articles like this from the Associated Press...
...is that gun owners are no longer sitting back and letting their opponents rule the day in the media for days or weeks on end after such a terrible tragedy. That is what happened, to a large degree, in the aftermath of Columbine, and the effects are still felt to this day.
The attacks against the Second Amendment are also being defended early in other quarters.
According to CNN, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has chastised those who seized on Friday's spree killing to call for gun law changes, saying it was too soon to use the massacre as part of a political debate.
"This is just not the appropriate time to be grandstanding about gun laws," the Republican governor was quoted as saying. "Can we at least get through the initial grief and tragedy for these families before we start making them political pawns?"
"I am a little bit disturbed by politicians who, in the immediate aftermath of this type of tragedy, try to grandstand on it, and I'm not going to be one of those people," he said.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney echoed those sentiments, telling CNBC "I still believe that the Second Amendment is the right course to preserve and defend and don't believe that new laws are going to make a difference in this type of tragedy."
"There are–were, of course, very stringent laws which existed in Aurora, Colorado," Romney observed. "Our challenge is not the laws, our challenge is people who, obviously, are distracted from reality and do unthinkable, unimaginable, inexplicable things.
Rush Limbaugh took to the air on Monday to offer a strong defense of the Second Amendment, and address the fact that its enemies had so quickly sought to politicize the spree killing:
It's amazing, I mean, the fact didn't even cross my mind, politicizing this? But that's the first thing that crossed the minds of supposedly reputable journalists. The ABC investigative unit did a Google search. Back to the event. The shock upon learning of nearly incomprehensible mayhem ruthlessly inflicted against living, breathing, caring fellow human beings was interrupted by opportunistic, politically ill leftists. Politically ill leftists. I mean, before anybody could absorb the loss, before anybody could comprehend the loss of friends and relatives of those who were murdered in cold blood, before anybody could begin to grieve for those that we didn't even know, Brian Ross and George Stephanopoulos on ABC have breathless breaking news that turned out to be as wrong as anything in media has ever been wrong.
Everybody was talking about Brian Ross. What about Stephanopoulos who set him up? Can you imagine how that went? These guys show up for work Friday morning at Good Morning America, Stephanopoulos says, (imitating Stephanopoulos) "Hey, hey, Brian why don't you see if you can find some link to the Tea Party with this guy. Maybe he listens to Limbaugh. Maybe he listens to Beck or Hannity." "I already have, already found it, George, Tea Party." "Oh, good. Good. We'll go with it." Something like that. Here we have an unspeakable human tragedy, and people who tell us that they are the last reservoirs of compassion in America, that they are the truly sensitive, caring, thoughtful ones, the first instinct they had was to what? Try to find a way to help Barack Obama with this unspeakable tragedy. Try to find a way to help Barack Obama. Try to find a way to help the Democrat Party.
Brian Ross, desperate to find a link that would help Barack Obama. How despicably partisan do you have to be to have this knee-jerk suspicion? Brian Ross said on the air: "There's a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea Party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year." We can't say for sure, but we're gonna say anyway. We can't say for sure, but we're gonna say anyway! And say they did. Then they said, we'll retract it. Then they apologized for it some hours later. Nothing like a little mass murder to bring out leftists who suffer political illness.
"I'm not blaming anybody," Limbaugh added. "I'm reacting. The guy who did this gets the blame. I'm just not going to sit here and listen to the Constitution of this country be blamed for this. I'm not gonna let that go. Pure and simple. They start the game, I'm gonna finish the game."
Amen, and amen.
Chad D. Baus is the Buckeye Firearms Association Vice Chairman.