Given the high stakes involved, it's worth trying to get at what's underneath much of the uproar over President Obama's announcement yesterday of a broad gun control plan - besides the usual pack of politicians and media pundits vying for attention and followers.
From threats of impeachment and insurrection to all the rest of the tough talk, the view from here is that the president's proposals would not be creating such a firestorm of wildly overheated oppositional hot air if they were being made by a White Commander In Chief.
Back when President Bill Clinton got Congress to pass an assault weapons ban in 1994, he certainly faced opposition - but without the intensity, nastiness and extremism of what President Obama is facing in this Internet age. And while the explosion of online communications and media - along with the rise of Fox News - has fueled epic new levels of rumor-spreading, fear-mongering and disinformation-sharing, the role of plain old personal responsibility has to be accounted for too.
We've got to get real about Race playing a big part in how the president's plan is being greeted and processed by an awful lot of people. Instead of taking a long, hard look at the actual proposals and how they would impact one's family and friends, there's a knee jerk overreaction to the very idea that Obama would use the powers of the presidency and the federal government to help solve the gun violence problem plaguing our country.
It's a lot like the health care reform plan he finally succeeded in passing in 2010. You know, the plan that all the attention-hungry opportunists on Fox News, the Internet and Talk Radio kept calling socialism, or fascism; the plan that's now letting family members or friends with cancer get health insurance for the first time, or letting young adults up through age 26 be insured by their parents' health plan, for the first time.
While most in conservative media usually refrain from making overtly racist slurs publicly, repeated references for almost 5 years now to the president's African roots, his "foreign ties", the legitimacy of his birthplace, the legitimacy of his success at Harvard University - it all adds up to exactly what those media figures and the corporate money behind them want it to add up to: Fanning the discomfort of a significant number of White Americans with having a Black president, regardless of what he may want or be able to do to help them and their families.
To whatever extent this strategy succeeds in creating discomfort and suspicion in people's minds - whether those people are or see themselves as racist or not - then the actual factual information about health reform and gun control gets blurred and twisted - which once again is exactly what the ruthless corporate entities fighting to protect their endlessly increasing profit margins are trying to make happen.
This explains how in the space of 24 hours or so, millions of people around the country are reading and being influenced by distortions, disinformation and outright lies about the president's plan to save American lives by reducing gun violence. Much of the anger and finger-pointing over the past day has focused on the 23 executive orders issued by the president, with viral emails and Right Wing Internet sites screaming inaccurate claptrap about "martial law" and other such nonsense.
But the fact of the matter is that President Obama does indeed have the legal power to issue those executive orders, and it is a power that George W. Bush and other of his predecessors used as much or more than President Obama has. More importantly, if you look at yesterday's list list of executive orders, I defy you to find argument with any of them. They focus on creating more effective data collection and information sharing systems, gun training/safety programs, and mental health care programs.
Not a single one of these executive orders interferes with the second amendment rights of Americans to own a very wide range of firearms and ammunition, as long as they don't have a history of criminal activity or mental illness.
The same is true of the legislative proposals that President Obama wants Congress to act on. From universal background checks on every gun buyer in every situation, to banning assault weapons, to banning high capacity ammunition clips - none of these initiatives interferes with the second amendment rights of Americans to own a very wide range of firearms and ammunition, as long as they don't have a history of criminal activity or mental illness.
It's pretty straightforward stuff to not want people with a documented history of criminal activity or mental illness to be able to walk into a gun show and buy firearms on the spot without a background check. Isn't it?
And it's a relatively small price to pay for those who would like to buy an assault weapon, to no longer be able to; so that semi-automatics like the Bushmaster taken by Adam Lanza from his mother and used to kill so many children at Sandy Hook Elementary School will no longer be readily available for sale to suburban moms, much less to deranged killers like Lanza. And the same goes for high capacity ammunition clips and magazines.
What we see then, in the president's Executive Orders and legislative recommendations, are a balanced set of proposals that absolutely protect the second amendment rights of Americans to own a very wide range of firearms and ammunition, as long as they don't have a history of criminal activity or mental illness.
Given how many Democrats and progressives own guns and ammo too, there's just no rational reason to think that these common sense measures have anything whatsoever to do with some liberal conspiracy, or with the government looking to take legal guns and ammunition away from law-abiding, licensed gun owners.
Anyone who falls for viral emails and Internet/TV/Radio mouthpieces screaming that President Obama's proposals smack of tyranny, needs to question what exactly is driving their suspicions and feeding their fears. Because it certainly doesn't have anything to do with the facts of the situation, or the truth of this grave matter.