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Picking a Gun Fight

The president has seemed awfully cocksure since his re-election, but he might have at last overplayed his hand by picking a fight with America’s gun owners.
We could be wrong, of course. At the time we had thought that Obamacare and the $800 billion or so of wasted stimulus money and the flurry of taxes and regulations and the various scandals and all the rest of it would have aroused the country’s ire, but after a mid-term temper tantrum the country decided to go along with the program for so long as the entitlement money kept flowing. With the election in hand, a tax hike for the rich successfully imposed on the dispirited Republicans, the entitlement money still flowing, and the country recently outraged by yet another mass shooting, the White House has some reason to believe it can roll back gun rights by any means necessary without political consequence.
Still, from our perspective here on the plains there seems a strong likelihood of a significant backlash. The tragedy in Connecticut has at least momentarily created a climate favorable to strict gun controls, but the past couple hundred years of constitutional governance have inculcated in the American people a hard-to-break habit of exercising a God-given right to bear arms. A government can gradually whittle away a people’s rights with light bulb regulations and individual insurance mandates and smoking bans in honky-tonks and the like, much like bringing the proverbial frog to a boil, but striking at a right so fundamental as self-defense will not go unnoticed.
We find plenty of anecdotal evidence to support this notion. The National Rifle Association is polling better than Obama and its membership is swelling, gun sales are booming, newspapers crusading against gun rights are losing even more readers, many of the states are continuing to codify gun rights in their laws, and gun rights advocates refuse to be shamed by their supposed betters and are instead even more outspoken. Thus far the Republican party seems to be sticking to its traditional support for the Second Amendment, which should be sufficient to thwart any legislative attempts to restrict gun rights, and there is even reason to hope that the courts will intervene if Obama uses executive orders to circumvent the constitution.
Support for gun rights is widely spread, as well. There seems to be some support for gun control in the densely populated cities back east, where even such stalwart fiscal conservatives as Rudy Guiliani and Chris Christie are susceptible to the anti-gun instinct, but we have long noticed that there is considerable support for guns here in flyover country, where even some of our most infuriatingly liberal friends have closets full of the things. Our long and intimate acquaintanceships with numerous gun owners suggest that any laws which do somehow get passed by congress and upheld by the courts will be widely ignored, and that popular sentiment will celebrate the law-breaking the same way it during Prohibition and the 55-mile-an-hour speed limit and every other era of unpopular laws.
The Obama administration reliably refuses to let a crisis go to waste, to paraphrase the famous words of former chief of staff and longtime gun foe Rahm Emanuel, but in its attempt to take advantage of the raw emotions caused by the Connecticut tragedy it might be underestimating a sense of impending crisis that makes this an especially inopportune time to attack gun rights. Obama’s cocksureness has rendered him incapable of sensing the widespread anxiety that the already weak economy will soon come crashing down under the weight of federal debt and onerous regulation, and that when the entitlement money stops flowing those guns are going to come in very handy.
There’s a feeling afoot, too, that any government so fearful of its people that it seeks to disarm them should in turn be feared. That’s another old American habit that’s hard to break.

— Bud Norman

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