President Obama has long supported "reasonable" gun-control efforts that protect the innocent while preserving the rights of the Second Amendment. Yet the belief that his real goal is to confiscate everyone's guns (perhaps as a way to end hunting and force everyone to subsist on an all-arugula diet) took hold in the gun community long ago. Obama's infamous remark about people "cling[ing] to guns and religion" during the 2008 primaries certainly didn't help convince gun owners that he respected or understood them, and when he was elected, paranoia-fueled gun purchases surged. So it has been with great care and timidity that Obama entered the debate over gun control that erupted in the wake of the Tucson shooting in January, which is to say he pretty much avoided it completely. Until now! Only two months after everyone stopped talking about the issue entirely, Obama has finally offered up his first extended thoughts via a huge national platform, an op-ed in the Arizona Daily Star.
After confirming that he believes "that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms," Obama tries to find common ground between gun advocates and gun-control advocates:
The fact is, almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible. They're our friends and neighbors. They buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection. And that's something that gun-safety advocates need to accept. Likewise, advocates for gun owners should accept the awful reality that gun violence affects Americans everywhere, whether on the streets of Chicago or at a supermarket in Tucson.
After establishing this common ground, Obama, in typically Obaman fashion, seeks to occupy it, by proposing ways to improve background checks, which polls show is overwhelmingly popular, even among gun owners themselves. That's as far as Obama goes in this particular op-ed. He admits that, while "there's more we can do to prevent gun violence," he's merely hoping to start "a new discussion on how we can keep America safe for all our people." Except, we were having this discussion in January, and Obama sat it out, despite apparently not having anything particularly controversial to say.
President Obama: We must seek agreement on gun reforms [Arizona Daily Star]