Why Gun Owners Distrust Obama
Editor's Note: The following op-ed was published in the Cleveland Plain Dealer on Sunday, January 31.
President Obama has expressed dismay that gun owners and Second Amendment advocacy groups such as Buckeye Firearms Association and the NRA don't trust him on the issue of gun control. He has even mocked gun owners as “conspiracy” minded and paranoid.
But gun owners have many perfectly logical reasons to distrust the President.
He presents a false crisis. In a New York Times op-ed, Obama claims “The epidemic of gun violence in this country is a crisis.” But as he himself has admitted, the murder rate has been declining for years and has, in fact, reached historically low levels. And of the approximately 30,000 gun deaths each year, two-thirds are suicides, not murder.
He resorts to bait and switch. Obama repeatedly refers to mass shootings to justify more gun control. During the CNN townhall recently, he suggested “sensible background checks” so that families “don't have to go through what the families at Newtown or San Bernadino or Charleston went through.” But because guns used in these and other recent mass shootings came from licensed dealers, criminal background checks obviously did not stop these crimes.
In addition, mass shootings aren't the problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control, in 2013, 33,636 people died from firearm deaths. According to the Mass Shooting Tracker, just 502 of those deaths were from mass shootings. That's less than 1.5%.
His record is clearly anti-gun. During his political career, Obama has supported gun registration for law-abiding gun owners, supported the idea that any city should be able to ban guns whenever they want, voted to allow predatory lawsuits intended to bankrupt the firearms industry, and supported a ban on the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons, which are ordinary and highly popular guns used by both citizens and law-enforcement and represent the majority of guns sold today.
Perhaps worst of all, he has infamously insulted gun owners by suggesting “bitterness” as the reason people “cling to guns or religion” and have “antipathy to people who aren't like them.”
His solutions invite abuse. In the White House “Fact Sheet” outlining Obama's Executive Actions, expanded background checks are offered as a way to “keep guns out of the wrong hands.” This will be done by redefining when it's necessary to be licensed as a firearms dealer.
However, the fact sheet also says, “There is no specific threshold number of firearms purchased or sold that triggers the licensure requirement” and suggests that it might be situations where “as few as two firearms” are sold or “when only one or two transactions” take place. So no one can ever know what is legal and what is illegal. That determination will be made on a case-by-case basis. And yet, those who violate this vague regulation can face criminal penalties of up to five years in prison and fines up to $250,000.
Gun owners don't trust the President because, apparently, he doesn't trust us. His so-called solutions ignore real criminals and infringe on our Constitutional rights.
Dean Rieck is Executive Director of Buckeye Firearms Association, recipient of the NRA's Club Recruiter of the Year Award, a marketing consultant who has worked with more than 300 clients worldwide, and a partner with Second Call Defense.