It's up to us

In gun debate, it's not government's job to reshape society

We appreciate President Obama’s sentiments for a safe society, particularly for children.

Moreover, his plan for gun control sounds innocuous enough – and conservatives’ fears that he’d shred the Constitution in his 23 executive orders either were overblown, or perhaps convinced him to tread lightly.

Still, the problem with the White House reaction to the Sandy Hook massacre is twofold: 1) it’s unlikely to reduce gun violence, particularly since the vast majority of the violence occurs on city streets, often with illegal guns, and 2) it will only increase the size and reach of the federal government leviathan.

In other words, the attempt by the White House to drill down into American society to unprecedented and impossible depths may accomplish little else than further bloating the bureaucracy.

No amount of bureaucracy, no scurrying about by an emboldened officialdom, would’ve prevented a deranged young man from exacting carnage in Newtown, and it won’t stop anyone else.

What it will do is further poke the government’s nose into our business – even going so far as to press our doctors to have that little gun talk with us.

We fear, then, that should the president’s laundry list be enacted, the country will be less free and no more safe.

The Department of Homeland Security is already stirring, as is the Department of Health and Human Services and other federal agencies.

One recommendation the president made that we agree with is the need to empower schools to have armed security. When that was first proposed by the National Rifle Association, of course, the notion was scoffed at.

Furthermore, the president’s call for a Centers for Disease Control study on the causes and prevention of gun violence – though there are likely plenty of existing studies – may produce conclusions Mr. Obama and his left-leaning supporters find uncomfortable. If the study is honest, it will no doubt conclude that guns don’t cause violence – but that many other societal factors do. And many of those societal factors are the direct descendants of liberal policies and loose cultural mores.

They will also find that assault weapons are very rarely used in crime.

We urge this president and all who would lead us not to try to use government to radically alter American society, particularly after only a few weeks of closed-door meetings.

There are things the government can and should do, especially regarding mental illness and guns. We don’t suppose any of the perpetrators of mass shootings in recent years have been quite right in the mind.

But the real heavy lifting will have to be done by Americans themselves. Government can’t create the kind of society we want. That’s up to us.

It has to start with an honest, dispassionate examination of what really ails us.

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Rick McKee Editorial Cartoon