Barack Obama looked haggard, spent, drained. He had just met with survivors and the families who lost loved ones in the Aurora, Colo., shootings.
Now, in front of the cameras and a small crowd Sunday, he stood in a blue suit, with no tie, his shirt collar open. It was about 8:45 p.m. East Coast time, and there was the beginning of stubble on his chin.
It was not his words that got to me, though they were simple and powerful: “Scripture says that ‘He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more.’”
No, it was a few minutes later, when Obama described a teenager who had been shot in the neck by a bullet, and Obama put his hand to his throat to mark the spot and, as he kept talking, let his fingers linger there.
It was wrenching, touching, dramatic, sincere.
Not baloney because he was not moved by the terrible violence, not baloney because he did not feel for all the dead, their loved ones and the survivors. No, all those things were real to him.
What was baloney is that he intends to do nothing about preventing it in the future.
Of course Mitt Romney is just as bad as Obama here. But let’s take a look at what Obama’s Press Secretary Jay Carney said earlier this week, as documented in Playbook.
NO NEW OBAMA PUSH ON GUN CONTROL – From Jay Carney’s gaggle on Air Force One, en route Aurora yesterday afternoon: “[T]he President … believes we need to take steps that protect Second Amendment rights of the American people but that ensure that we are not allowing weapons into the hands of individuals who should not, by existing law, obtain those weapons. … [T]he President’s view is that we can take steps to keep guns out of the hands of people who should not have them under existing law. And that’s his focus right now.
Q: “In terms of like assault weapons or something like that, there’s no renewed push for a renewed assault weapons ban?”
CARNEY: “[A]s you know, there has been opposition to that since it expired within Congress … I wouldn’t argue with your assessment about that. So the President is focused on doing the things that we can do that protect Second Amendment rights, which he thinks is important, but also to make it harder for individuals who should not, under existing law, have weapons to obtain them.”
It’s hard to think of a more craven political response to this moment. In short, James Holmes’ killing of twelve people in Aurora and shooting of almost sixty more is not preventable. There is nothing the President supports doing to make such an event less likely in the future, as Holmes had done nothing illegal prior to opening fire on a theater full of Batman fans.
I have plenty of friends who are gun owners and I often see memes or off-hand comments on Facebook about Obama coming after their guns. It’s hard to think of a narrative less based in reality in American politics than this one. Obama has zero desire to increase regulation of guns, let alone try to take them away from gun owners. It’s a joke. Keep in mind, even before Obama had refused to pursue gun control following the shooting of Arizona Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords, the Brady Campaign had given Obama an “F” on every issue it scored.
I don’t have a perfect conception of what sane gun control policies would be and where the line between protecting our Second Amendment rights balanced with not having a massacre in our country every few months is. I would guess something along the lines of not allowing weapons whose sole purpose to kill many people at once – things like 100 round drum clips and assault weapons. The answer is likely going to be somewhat arbitrary, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for a system of laws which seeks to prevent these shootings, not take them as an unavoidable given in America.