What wasn’t in Obama’s State of the Union address
February 15, 2011
by Joseph P. Tartaro
One has to conclude from their recent reanimation that veteran anti-gunners in political office, the establishment media and the foundations that finance groups like the Brady Center and Violence Policy Center have been waiting breathlessly for something like the Jan. 8 Tucson, AZ, mass shooting incident in order to resume their war to eradicate the Second Amendment.
Like the veteran cast of a second-rate, road-company stage melodrama, New York City billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Brady Campaign’s Paul Helmke, Congresswoman Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) immediately stepped back into the footlights.
Of course, they weren’t the only ones. The most thoughtless on both sides of the political spectrum were quick to use the tragic event as a way of trying to silence those of an opposite persuasion, by blaming free speech for the violence of others, raising new questions about the First Amendment.
In the public desire to explain why the unexplainable happened, their fingers pointed at guns, full capacity magazines, political commentators, bloggers, Sarah Palin and anyone and anything they didn’t like before the event took place.
Just days later, many anticipated that President Obama might pump some life into their agendas when he gave his State of the Union address. But here again they were disappointed.
According to a CBS News commentary, the most glaring omission in President Obama’s televised speech before both houses of Congress the night of Jan. 25 was the lack of any mention of the gun control issue.
“In the wake of the Tucson tragedy,” CBS commented, “gun control advocates have been pressuring Mr. Obama to take a strong stand in favor of the gun control legislation being put forth in Congress. But the White House has stayed conspicuously silent.”
You would think that the spinmeisters at the Brady Center had coached CBSand PBSto express further disappointment in the candidate they backed for president in 2008.
“And while Mr. Obama opened his speech … with a reference to that (Tucson) tragedy, he elected to stay away from the hot-button issue of whether new gun control laws should come out of it. That follows his behavior in the days and weeks since the shootings, other than a glancing reference to gun control in his speech memorializing the shooting victims,” CBS continued before reinforcing their message of disappointment by quoting Helmke.
“Just two and a half weeks ago we had 13 people wounded, six killed including a Congresswoman wounded, a federal judge killed,” Politico’s Roger Simon said on CBS News’ State of the Union webcast. “Democrats saw this as a way to renew the vigor and the argument about doing something small and sensible like banning high capacity magazines for handguns. President Obama doesn’t seem to be signaling that he’s getting on that.”
These are not the only so-called progressives who want to show they can make an uncertain world safe.
What these commentators missed, but the public did not, was that stuff happens that you just can’t do anything about; and that gun crimes, no matter how large the toll, are not the worst things that could happen.
Just two days before the President’s address, at least 35 people, including some foreigners, and up to 168 people were injured, many of them critically, were killed after a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up at Moscow’s busiest airport.
According to The Guardian in the UK, the bomber entered the ground floor of Domodedovo airport’s terminal building apparently unchallenged. He then made his way to the crowded international arrivals zone. At 4.32 p.m. local time he set off a massive explosive device, possibly hidden in a suitcase, causing a blast equivalent to 7kg of TNT.
According to unconfirmed reports, investigators found the head of a man aged 30 to 35, who is thought to be the suicide bomber.
The Jan. 24 blast was the worst terrorist attack in Russia since two female suicide bombers from the volatile Dagestan region blew themselves up on Moscow’s metro last March, killing 40 people, and injuring more than 100.
Just a few months earlier, on Sept. 9, 2010, a suicide car bomber hit the central market of Rostov-on-Don, a major city in Russia’s North Caucasus, killing at least 17 and wounding more than 130 people.
The attacker detonated his explosives as he drove by the main entrance to the Vladikavkaz market, according to the Emergency Situations Ministry.
Some argue that the Russian incidents merely reflect the continuing threat of terrorist attacks, but they miss the point that the American public did not miss. Aware of the seemingly irrational and insane attacks that can occur anywhere on earth, a majority of Americans told pollsters that the Tucson incident had not made them want more gun control laws. Of course, that also disappointed the anti-gunners who really don’t seem too concerned about violence unless it is perpetrated with firearms.
People were quick to see that additional layers of security are no guarantee of public safety, and the public does pay attention to the news from overseas, whether it’s a war zone or another seemingly peaceful country.
Of course there are people who simply hate guns and imagine a safer world without them. But they miss the message of the modern terrorists in this county, in Russian, in other countries whose citizens they have attacked, and even in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bombs and their related improved relatives (IEDs) cause more casualties than all the small arms wielded by all sides in the Middle East.
According to January wire service reports from Kabul, the makeshift explosive weapons killed 268 American troops in Afghanistan last year up 60% over the previous year, even as the Pentagon employs improved countermeasures. And the number of troops wounded by explosive devices also jumped in 2010by well over 170%. Last year, 3,366 US servicemen were wounded by such devices compared to 1,211 a year earlier. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the wartime toll in killed and wounded American and allied troops is greater from IEDs than from small arms, a fact which makes it clear that when people are determined enough to inflict deadly violence on others, guns are not the most dangerous instruments.
It really doesn’t matter whether the person or persons are driven by mental problems or some form of religious or cultural fanaticism. If they are determined enough to carry out their irrational attacks on others, they will find a deadly means to carry their schemes forwardguns, gasoline, fire, IEDs, motor vehicles, chemicals of all variety.
Now I don’t doubt that President Obama believes in the idea of regulating criminal behavior by regulating guns. He’s said things to that effect in the past and has supported such legislation during his political career. He even seems likely to carry some of his regulatory schemes forward executively rather than legislatively.
But I give him credit for realizing as his State of the Union address was being crafted that there are things he can’t do anything about, so he should focus on the things that he might be able do, an agenda that might contribute to the public good. Further regulating guns and law-abiding gunowners would not have prevented the Tucson shooting anymore than Russian security measures could have prevented the Moscow airport suicide bombings.
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