By Massad Ayoob
In early January, 2016, after announcing his “executive actions on guns” and talking on CNN’s “Town Hall Meeting,” President Barack Obama admitted that when he and his wife Michelle were campaigning in the farmlands of Iowa years ago, Michelle mentioned that if they lived in a place so remote from police response, she would want to have a rifle or shotgun to protect herself and their children. Now that he and his family are closely surrounded for life by heavily armed Secret Service, it’s apparently not an issue for him. But it still is for the rest of us.
Another significant revelation from Obama in January: While the opponents of gun owners’ civil rights have long talked about “30,000 people a year killed by gun violence,” and deceitfully avoided the common statistic that half or more of those deaths are suicides, the President himself admitted that two-thirds of those “gun deaths” were actually suicides.
Suicide prevention is something most of the gun-banners have ignored, while the gun owners were doing something about it. For some time now, the New Hampshire Firearms Safety Coalition has proven itself a successful role model for convincing concerned, responsible individuals to offer to hold firearms for friends or relatives who had expressed self-destructive ideation. We’ll never know how many lives have been saved by this route toward preventing “a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” Ironically, the “universal background checks” the President angrily rebuked Republicans for blocking would have prevented those rescuers from taking guns from their depressed and suicidal friends and thus saving their lives, because they would have required a cumbersome legal procedure that, being permanent instead of temporary, would likely have been rejected by the person saved.
We do not know how many of those self-inflicted deaths are so-called “rational suicides” — the person who, facing a terminal cancer diagnosis, would rather leave on their own terms and give their estate to their heirs than to see that inheritance consumed with futile efforts to keep them alive only to suffer in abject misery. It brings up issues of self-determination and the right to die with dignity that many in America are not prepared to face. We do know that in Japan, a virtually gun-free society, there is a much higher rate of suicide than in the United States: culture seems to have more to do with it than the availability of but one of many readily available means of self-destruction.
While President Obama has studiously avoided it, most of his sycophants talk about his January 2016 pronouncements as “a good start.” And of course, free Americans ask, “A good start toward what?” Obama seems to admire the Australian gun confiscation, and his Democrat heir apparent Hillary Clinton has publicly endorsed the concept. The end game is increasingly apparent.
A cardinal element of the “executive orders” was declaring that selling firearms at a profit without a license would be criminalized, yet without specifying how many sales in what frame of time would constitute being an unlicensed firearms dealer. Wherever you live, if you use guns you’ve probably acquired a few of them, perhaps quite a few. When you sense your end drawing near, or you realize your kids have moved to the city and don’t particularly want your firearms, so you decide to sell them … will you become that “unlicensed firearms dealer” and end your days in a Federal penitentiary? After all, old guns appreciate in value so much that many consider them investments, so naturally they’ll sell for more than you paid for them 40 years ago, and earn you a profit …
Sadly, while the President and his minions kept talking about black market dealers who buy guns outside Illinois and sell them to criminals in Chicago being to blame for that anti-gun city’s incredibly high murder rate, no one asked him to explain why, under his administration, only a miniscule number of those truly illegal “gun-runners” are actually prosecuted when caught, nor why his protégé Rahm Emanuel didn’t make that a priority as mayor of Chicago.
Let me close by thanking President Obama for a couple of things. First, for putting it out from the White House itself that two-thirds of deaths by firearms in this country are intentional suicide, which any thinking person realizes can’t be laid at the feet of law-abiding gun owners. Second, for admitting what gun people have said for seven years: that he has been the best firearms salesman in history. Shortly before his executive actions, it was announced that November 27, 2015 (Black Friday), had set an all-time record for NICS checks for purchases of firearms, and that in December the FBI conducted 3,314,594 background checks for firearms purchases, an increase of more than half a million over the previous single-month record set in December 2012.
I hope the many first-time gun owners among those millions join the rest of us in realizing how critical it will be in 2016 to elect a President, and a Congress, that understands the importance of the rights of responsible, self-reliant Americans to keep and bear arms.