All That Gun Talk

We just can’t shake a nagging suspicion that we’re being played for suckers every time we address the latest gun control frenzy.
There are plenty of other important issues to consider, after all. The economy is currently lousy, it’s likely to get worse after the upcoming “debt ceiling” debate is inevitably resolved by committing the country to yet another trillion or two of debt, and the taking of six American hostages by the supposedly routed al-Qaida terror group is just the latest reminder that the international situation continues to deteriorate. We also remain cautiously hopeful that all of the recent noise will ultimately amount to little. The most onerous of the proposed gun restrictions will likely face stiff resistance in Congress, including a key few Democratic senators facing re-election campaigns in rural states where many of the voters still bitterly cling to God, guns, and their God-given gun rights, and the numerous measures that President Obama has imposed by imperial edict are mostly such innocuous fluff as directing the Secretary of Health and Human Services to “lead a national discussion” about guns.
No one can seriously believe that the nation suffers a dire shortage of discussion about guns, or that the HHS Secretary has any gift to lead it to any fruitful conclusion, but for obvious reasons Obama would prefer that we continue to discuss guns rather than any of those other important issues. He’s touting some dubious poll numbers which indicate that he’s taking only popular stands on guns, he nonetheless gets to pose as a politically courageous crusader against the all-powerful gun nut lobby, most of the media are cheering him on in the most hysterical fashion, he’s got cute kids lined up for the photo op, it’s all going to cost only a trifling few billion dollars, and at a time when the American public is reportedly demanding that he do something he is indisputably doing something. All that other stuff is so much messier for the president, too, and requires doing something that is an actual solution.
Still, attention must be paid to the gun issue or there’s no telling what the government might get away with. Included in the president’s orders and his proposals to Congress are not only serious assaults on the fundamental right to self-defense but also a potentially dangerous erosion of other liberties.
Although Obama’s directives don’t go so far as New York’s recently enacted gun law, which requires all mental health professionals to report any patient that might conceivably become violent, he does make it clear that the federal government would be quite grateful for such information. Given that Obama seems intent on giving the federal government a monopsony on all health care professionals’ services such gratitude could well prove an irresistible inducement. Those who regard psychiatry as an essential medical science should be concerned that such an arrangement will discourage the mentally ill from seeking treatment, and perhaps even rehearse all those clichés from the abortion debate about the government coming between patients and their doctors. Those of us who take a more skeptical view of the whole mental health boondoggle are entitled to worry that all manner of mental health professionals will start reporting even the patients most unlikely to become just to inoculate themselves against liability just in case they are wrong.
There’s something unsettling, too, about Ocala’s directive that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention investigate “the relationship between video games, media images and violence.” That’s another topic that has already been discussed ad nauseum, but when the government starts to take such an official interest it could easily to lead censorship. The Hollywood lobby seems to have better standing with the president than the gun owner lobby, so we don’t expect any restrictions on the big budget blood-soaked cinema that our supposedly conscience-stricken nation seems to love, but it’s not hard to see how more humble fare could be affected. If that strikes you as paranoid we suggest you consult Nakoula Nakoula, the poverty row producer who was sent to prison on a parole violation after his low-budget video was panned by the administration as “vile and disgusting.”
The price of liberty is eternal vigilance, alas, and it looks as if it will be required on several fronts in the coming months and years.

— Bud Norman

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