On Thursday night President Obama held a town hall hosted by CNN concerning gun violence in America. This came two days after the president signed an executive action that ruffled the feathers of many gun fanatics. Since Tuesday, gun fanatics, the NRA, the conservative media and the Republican party have been in full-on gun propaganda mode, doing just about everything they can to misinform the American people about President Obama’s executive actions. I watched a Fox News segment on Tuesday that had “Obama’s Gun Grab” plastered on the screen almost the entire time, even though absolutely nothing he did on Tuesday has anything remotely to do with a “gun grab.” However, to listen to most on the right talk about this, you would think he just banned semi-automatic weapons and ordered that they be confiscated from every American who owns one.
So, I knew that even though the president was participating in this town hall, it wasn’t going to make any difference. The truth is, you can’t reason with people who are unreasonable and you can’t use facts to persuade people who don’t believe in them. After all, we’re seven years into Obama’s presidency, and millions of conservatives still believe he’s pushing to confiscate guns – even though he’s repeatedly said he has no intention to do any such thing.
That being said, the town hall did have several noteworthy moments and the president did slam some of the outrageous fear-mongering that’s been coming from the Republican party.
“Our position is consistently mischaracterized,” Obama said. “There’s a reason that the NRA isn’t here. They’re right down the street. You think they’d be prepared to have a debate with the President.”
First, the fact that the NRA declined to participate speaks volumes about the cowardly nature of the organization. I come from the belief that if you believe in something as passionately as the NRA claims to believe in the Second Amendment, then you damn sure don’t run from defending those beliefs. The NRA had a perfect opportunity to confront President Obama face-to-face and debunk whatever it is he said that I’m sure they’ll claim was a lie, but they refused to participate. Though I couldn’t help but notice they were more than willing to run their mouths on Twitter.
One of the most moving moments came when a rape victim pressed the president on her belief that she should have the right to protect herself and her two small children, citing the fact that she was unarmed in college when someone broke into her apartment and sexually assaulted her.
While I completely understand her point, and fully support her right to defend herself and her family, I couldn’t help but notice the logic of her questioning of the president was mostly unfounded. Nothing he did with his executive actions, or any proposal he’s put forth in the past, would prevent her from owning the guns she currently possesses. Not only that, but she seemed to suggest that the president was trying to restrict the right for Americans to carry concealed handguns. This doesn’t make any sense considering concealed handgun and open carry laws are handled by each state, not the federal government. Though what the president did point out was that his intent wasn’t to prevent her or any other American from being able to defend themselves, but to try to do everything we can to ensure that criminals, like her assailant, weren’t able to get their hands on guns.
Another moment that stuck out to me was when the president admitted that we’ll never be able to end all gun violence. While conservatives will use any act of gun violence as an excuse to push pro-gun propaganda, the truth is we’ll never fully be able to rid ourselves of all of our gun-related homicides. But if we can reduce our annual gun violence by even 20 percent, that’s literally thousands of lives we would save every year. It’s ridiculous to argue, as many Republicans tend to do, that if a regulation won’t end all gun violence, it’s completely worthless.
But what I saw Thursday night was a man sitting there, almost begging people to come together to talk sensibly about guns. There was no over-the-top rhetoric, he wasn’t promising that gun regulations will end all violent gun crime, it was just him basically saying the status quo isn’t working and we have to do something productive.
Unfortunately, I know his pleas will mostly fall on deaf ears, because there’s no incentive for the NRA or the gun lobby to want to end gun violence. There’s far too much money (literally billions of dollars) to be made pushing the idea that the “solution” to our gun violence problem is more of the same idiocy that allowed all these criminals to get guns in the first place.
The harsh reality is, for the NRA and the gun lobby – gun violence is damn good for business. It’s just a shame so many in this country are too blind to see that they’re being played for fools.