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Obama, You Just Don't Get It

by Jay Morehouse | Letter To Editor Monday June 22, 2015    10:01 AM

In the wake of the latest mass killing in Charleston, SC I watched a cable news program play a litany of Obama reaction speeches he has made after similar events over his term as President. They were eerily alike, in both content and tenor, with a little more emphasis this time on differentiating the US with the rest of the world. They also broadcast comments from other political and social leaders regarding this attack and they too sounded similar with lots of; "we must never let this happen again" and "it's not how we fall, but how we get up" and "love and faith will conquer evil" and so forth.

If there were creatures viewing this from Space they would find it humorous, just as we might laugh watching a dog chase his tail. However, we on planet earth and, more specifically, Homeland America feel real pain, yet wallow in tragedy more like it is a ritual than any kind of lesson. When 21 six year old children can be gunned down and murdered in a horrific fashion, in a benign location, and the society they lived in does absolutely nothing to react to it other than to provide sympathy, then we shouldn't expect that the killing of 9 adults in a church will tomorrow be anything more than yesterday's news.

President Obama is as responsible as any group or individual for his failure to understand the problem we, as Americans, face as a society, which he so blithely points out doesn't exist in most other nations. He has the pulpit but doesn't use it. He talks to the nation like a retired college professor might speak to a Senior Center preceding the beginning of bingo night. I am so tired of it, Mr. Obama. This is the speech I want to hear:

For six years as your President I have misunderstood what we refer to as the "gun debate" and the proliferation of gun violence that we have now routinely addressed with this month's or that month's mass killing. I have also failed to adequately communicate the connection between these mass tragedies and the small ones that occur daily, if not hourly, around the Nation. I have less than two years left and I will not make this same mistake again, even if my efforts only end up tossed on desert air.

I and other political and social leaders have stood before you and said we need to act so that whatever mass killing du jour was examined such would never happen again. That was a lie. It was always a lie, even to those like me who were foolish enough to believe it might be true. These killings will happen again and there is nothing we can do to stop it.

A volcano with all its fury and devastation only spews a fraction of the molten lava that exists beneath the surface. We have too many guns that can be concealed and, like any society, we have a lunatic fringe. However with 320 million people, that fringe, however small the percentage, is huge in numbers. There is much that we can do socially to deal with psychotic individuals, those with criminal intent, or poisoned with hate, but we cannot make it "never happen again". I am far more fearful that I will see in my life another Sandy Hook or Virginia Tech than hopeful I will not.

However, I am referring to my life. What about the lives of my children and my grandchildren or yours? Can we make it "never happen again" for them or at least make it the exception rather than the rule? What is it we can do now that will make a difference in the future?

There is a lot we can do, and to the extent we don't we only push the problem to the next generation and irrationally compound the agony these weapons create among us.

The destruction that high capacity guns that can be readily hidden from public view goes far beyond the mass killings that brings so many of us to our knees. They allow crime of all kinds, both overt and coercive to thrive. It is so hard to control that law enforcement across the nation has begun to react offensively, like warriors proactive in their own defense instead of being the stewards of our safety. A clear majority of the Nation does not feel more secure because there is a proliferation of these weapons, quite the opposite. We need to decide as a Nation, as a Society, and as a culture that these weapons should not be part of the American fabric and begin taking the steps that will ultimately impact the next generation or certainly the generation after that, not simply with the reduction of handguns, but a fundamental change in what they will view as right and normal. No one views today the restriction of smoking in public places as abnormal, while fifty years ago it would have been unthinkable. Why should guns be different?

How do we do make that change? Four steps; we propose aggressive laws, we emphatically point out who opposes those laws, we overcome them politically, and we pass those laws. As our children grow to take over this country they will see what we started and, I believe, tend and nurture the seeds we have planted. They will see the commitment that will lead to the new normal.

These are the first laws I feel are essential: First, that there can be no concealed handguns carried by any individual in the United States unless that individual is in public law enforcement or has been licensed by the Federal Government, second, the magazine capacity of all existing and manufactured handguns be regulated by the Federal Government, third, that a Federal background check must be completed and accepted for the transfer of any handgun, public or private, and fourth, all handguns must be registered with the Federal Government. Violation of these laws and subsequent regulations would be a felony under Federal statute and subject to harsh penalties.

It is no mystery that states with powerful Conservative minorities would fight such laws. They would do so primarily through Republican representatives in Congress and the funding by national interests such as the NRA. They would wage a dirty fight, manipulating citizens through use of conspiratorial fears and false claims of patriotism, just as they always have. They would evoke the word "freedom" to their own ends. Perhaps freedom to them is a metal detector at every door of every school, church, pizza parlor, dry cleaner…you name it. Maybe freedom to them is the fear of being shot by a traffic cop as you pull your wallet out of your pants pocket.

The Republican Party will take the shameless position of advancing their political control at the expense of innocent and precious lives. They too will argue that freedom is in jeopardy, but I for one will no longer be passive to their hypocrisy. Let them fight; I'm ready to do battle. I have no more elections to win and if my own Party does not back me, so be it.

I ask every American who feels the same as me to commit time and money to make vocal their position and to support those in public office who hold the same. Even if in a given state a majority is persuaded by the powerbrokers to support Republican opponents of gun control, I will not abandon those who suffer in those states for lack of national commitment. Anyone who loses their life because we, as a nation, have failed to act is a minority of one. In this country everyone counts, not just those who feel threatened because they no longer have uncontrolled use of handguns. Join me.

Get real Obama. What do you have to lose?

Photo: President Barack Obama
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