What’s driving the sudden rise? Clearly, the well-placed fear that President Obama and Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate will try to impose dramatic restrictions in gun ownership rights. The curtailment of such rights has long been part of the liberal/progressive agenda. They prefer a model along the lines of Great Britain, where it is nearly impossible to purchase a handgun and where ownership of hunting weapons is severely restricted. (Yet where gun violence has sharply increased in recent years, despite those restrictions.)
Obama’s handling of the economy has been inept at best — but thanks in large part to the president, there’s no recession in the firearms industry these days.
Obama’s push comes in the wake of last year’s movie theater massacre in Colorado that left 12 people dead and the school shooting in Connecticut that took the lives of 26 victims. Obama ally U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-Cal.) has already announced plans to try and renew the Clinton-era federal ban on the manufacture of certain semi-automatic firearms (aka “assault weapons”), which expired in 2004 and which, studies showed, had no impact on gun violence. Critics also note that most of the weapons affected by the ban needed only minor cosmetic changes to get around the ban.
Obama has appointed Vice President Joe Biden to head a task force that is expected to make recommendations on the issue to the president on Tuesday.
It is highly probable those recommendations will include not just an attempt to ban assault-type weapons but also a push to limit the sale and ownership of high-capacity magazines for such weapons. It’s possible that even some conservatives might go along with banning such magazines.
It’s obvious that more must be done to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally unstable; something Obama hasn’t said much about as yet. And it’s equally obvious that there is a clear need for such people to be off the streets and in treatment facilities, too many of which were closed in the 1980s and ’90s.
Biden also is expected to offer suggestions to address violence on television, movies and video games. Here again the question arises of how to address public safety without violating constitutional rights, in this case, those protected by the First Amendment.
So a balancing act is just ahead: How to make our streets and schools safer without infringing on the rights of the law-abiding? After all, it is not your hunters or your “solid citizens” who own guns for self defense who are going on shooting rampages. However, it is precisely those gun owners who feel they are now in Obama’s figurative sights — and they are the ones now flocking to gun stores and gun shows.
Those sales are fueled by fear: Not so much by the fear of street violence or unnamed predators, but fear of a government planning to undermine their ability to protect themselves, their families and their belongings.
So, don’t expect the crowds at gun shows to subside any time soon.