Gun Control “Extremists?”
Before President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act in 2001, he said, “Today, we take an essential step in defeating terrorism, while protecting the constitutional rights of all Americans.” At the time, the Left cried out that their constitutional rights were being stripped away, but in the emotional post-9/11 environment, they were powerless to do much about it. And Bush knew it.
Last week, before President Barack Obama issued his executive orders on gun control, he said, “I believe most gun owners agree that we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible, law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale.” Afterward, the Right cried out that their Second Amendment rights are being stripped away, but in this emotional post-Sandy Hook tragedy environment, many feel powerless to do much about it.
And Obama knows it.
I too fear that Obama is attacking the Second Amendment in unprecedented and dangerous ways. I also know that most liberals think conservatives are overreacting and that the Right is simply being too extreme on this issue. The Left may be right, but that doesn’t mean that conservatives are absolutely right to “overreact.” They are right to be “extreme.”
It is during times of national tragedy that we must guard our liberties most, precisely because public fear has always been the perfect cover for politicians looking to advance their own agendas through increased government power. I know very few liberals who didn’t believe that Bush — or more accurately Vice President Dick Cheney and his neoconservative friends — didn’t already have an authoritarian predilection for war and the national-security state well before 9/11. I know very few conservatives who doubt that Obama and his liberal friends don’t have the same enthusiasm for grabbing guns every chance they can get.
Perhaps the more moderate view is that we should believe government is more honest or benevolent than this —that Bush and Obama both simply responded responsibly to national tragedies. I side with the extremists on this. I believe Bush and friends eventually used 9/11 as an excuse to shred the Fourth Amendment and start an irrational war in Iraq that neoconservatives had been itching for since the Clinton administration. And I believe Obama is using Sandy Hook as an excuse to trample the Second Amendment and pass stricter gun laws that liberals have been anxious to enact since forever.
In 2001, liberals were absolutely correct to be indignant over the Patriot Act. The flippant attitude that conservatives expressed toward civil liberties at that time — that the tragic events of 9/11 made these new government measures necessary — is the same line that Obama and the Left are now employ in attacking the Second Amendment.