President Barack Obama’s editorial calling for a fresh dialogue on the issue of guns in the wake of the shootings in Arizona went out of its way to avoid offending gun owners. He said “almost all gun owners in America are highly responsible,” called them “our friends and neighbors,” and said they “buy their guns legally and use them safely, whether for hunting or target shooting, collection or protection.”
He pointed out that gun rights have been expanded during his administration, and didn’t call for any new restrictions on guns — instead advocating for “enforcing laws that are already on the books.”
But the National Rifle Association appears determined to be offended by Obama’s call for a new tone in the discussion over gun policy. Appearing on Fox News on Monday, NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre told Megyn Kelly that Obama has an “administration embedded with people who spent their lifetime trying to destroy” the freedom of the Second Amendment.
LaPierre didn’t even think there should be any discussion over guns in the first place.
“My basic reaction is that if you want to start a dialogue, it really shouldn’t be about guns. The dialogue really ought to be on bad people and mad men, because unless we focus on that, we’re never going to get to the point,” LaPierre said. “We ought to be doing everything we can to get mad men and felons and drug dealers off the streets, because you can pass all the gun laws you want, and unless you get them off the street, you’re not going to make people safe.”
Obama wrote in his op-ed that some would “predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody’s guns. And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.”
“But I have more faith in the American people than that,” Obama wrote. “Most gun-control advocates know that most gun owners are responsible citizens. Most gun owners know that the word ‘commonsense’ isn’t a code word for ‘confiscation.’ And none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.”