Since President Obama announced his executive action on guns that really did nothing more than slightly expand background checks to include anyone who sells guns, as expected, the right-wing freakout has been intense – and outrageously absurd. This is the moment where the GOP essentially admitted what most sane people have known all along: They’re nothing but puppets for the NRA and the gun lobby. While I’ve seen and heard a lot of over-the-top fear-mongering from Republicans over the years – the overreaction to this very simple, and rather harmless, executive action has bordered on insanity.
Some on Fox News were literally referring to it as “Obama’s gun grab.” Which isn’t just dishonest, it’s a flat-out lie. Nothing President Obama did on Tuesday even remotely resembles a “gun grab.” It’s no wonder so many conservatives think so negatively of him – they’re being constantly fed blatant anti-Obama propaganda that’s based on pure fiction.
At the end of the day, President Obama’s move was fairly genius.
Why? Well, it’s simple.
The truth is, nothing he did on Tuesday is going to make a hugely significant difference. Sure, some criminals might be denied the ability to get a weapon, potentially saving lives (which is more than worth it), but those numbers will be so small in the grand scheme of gun violence that Obama will never be able to point at them and say, “See, what I did made a difference.” When 8-10k Americans die every year from gun violence (with more than double that ending their lives via suicide) a reduction of even a few hundred gun-related deaths will simply be dismissed as a random fluctuation by detractors.
But what Obama did was put the onus on Republicans to do something, knowing that they most likely won’t do anything. While the go-to talking point for Republicans whenever some sort of tragedy happens involving guns is to blame mental illness, that’s really just their generic way to avoid admitting that guns are a problem.
The unfortunate truth is, it’s not a matter of if the next horrific mass shooting happens – just when. And as these heartbreaking tragedies continue to occur in this country, eventually the American public as a whole is going to demand that something be done. When that time comes, it won’t be Democrats who are blamed for turning a blind eye to gun violence, it will be Republicans.
While conservatives continue to insist that we have to address mental illness and focus on keeping guns out of the hands of those who shouldn’t have them, they’ve done absolutely nothing to address either. In fact, just like they have with their absurd reaction toward President Obama slightly expanding background checks, they typically fight tooth and nail against anything that might help keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Including blocking an effort to prevent suspected terrorists from being able to legally purchase guns.
With Obama’s move – which was about all he could do unilaterally – he’s backed Republicans into a corner. He’s brought attention to gun safety during a time when there’s no recent shooting that’s dividing us. He made his move, now all he has to do is sit back and watch Republicans complain about his harmless executive action. He gets to watch them lie, fear-monger and spread all sorts of nonsense about his move to expand background checks – while still not proposing a single congressional action to do a damn thing to address gun violence.
We’ve always known that Republicans couldn’t care less about actual gun safety, and they’re proving it now more than ever.
While they continue to complain about (as they call it) President Obama’s “overreach,” they get to explain why they still continue to do nothing. Why, if they despise the president taking matters into his own hands, haven’t they – the party that controls Congress – taken a single step to address keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.
And he’s done all of this just a couple of weeks before his last State of the Union Address where it’s clear he’s going to make gun violence a key part of his speech. He’ll once again have a national audience focused on him while he calls out the outrageous fear-mongering that Republicans are certain to continue leading up to the annual presidential address.
He can say that he waited seven years, only to see Congress do nothing. That he gave them every opportunity to act, and they refused to do their jobs. That even when he used what little power he has to do something to potentially keep guns out of the hands of criminals, they opposed it. That even when Democrats tried to keep potential terrorists from being able to buy guns, Republicans unconscionably blocked that as well.
While it won’t make a huge difference now, he’s backed Republicans into a corner. He’s forced them to prove on a national stage that they never plan to do anything to address gun violence; that they’ll openly mock a man for being brought to tears when recalling the horrific event that took the lives of 20 children; and that they’re nothing more than the political arm of the NRA – an organization that heavily profits from gun violence and mass shootings.
When it’s all said and done, the Republican party isn’t in the business of trying to save American lives, it’s in the business of profiting from those who lose theirs.