Last week a letter to the editor parroted the Republican mantra that the Democratic Party’s goal is to “trample on individual freedoms” whereas (presumably) the Republicans are the true champions in the struggle “to mitigate gun violence.” However, setting aside dire Republican predictions and looking at documented actions, a different picture emerges.
President (Barack) Obama signed exactly two gun-related bills into law during his tenure. One allows individuals to carry guns in national parks, replacing a Reagan policy of prohibiting them; the other allows Amtrak passengers to transport guns in checked luggage, reversing a prohibition put in place by George W. Bush.
These laws are hardly the product of the mindless anti-gun mentality that the Republicans relentlessly attributed to President Obama. They expanded the freedom of gun owners who have been vetted by the states to carry guns. Obama did issue a directive restricting the access of the mentally ill to firearms. The directive was rescinded by President (Donald) Trump.
Meanwhile, the principal thrusts of the Republican stance on gun violence have been 1. The Democrats want to take away your guns. 2. Thoughts and prayers. 3. Wait, it’s too soon to talk gun violence mitigation. 3.a. Express moral outrage at those who won’t wait. 4. Wait forever. 5. Expand access to guns to facilitate the “good guys with guns” theory that states the good guy with a gun will prevent gun violence (even though this is rarely the case). 6. The Democrats want to take away your guns.
I would question that Republican politicians (at least Virginia Republicans) believe number five because they prohibited concealed carry in legislative chambers, indicating either craven hypocrisy, or an acknowledgement that our majority Republican legislature lacks enough good guys to do the job.
Despite the Republican stance that questions need to be answered before rational gun violence legislation can be implemented (see number four), there are things that can be done now, but as long as there is a Republican majority in the legislature, it’s doubtful that much will happen.