After his much-commented-on “politicize gun control!” speech last night, President Obama said this to the assembled press corps:
We know other countries in response to one mass shooting have been able to craft laws that almost eliminate mass shootings. Friends of ours, allies of ours, Great Britain, Australia, countries like ours. So we know there are ways to prevent it.
This is remarkable. Customarily, Democratic politicians react to mass shootings by calling for pointless around-the-edges reforms: “universal” background checks, hard limits on the size of commercially available magazines, rules that determine how certain rifles may look, etc. In fact, since 2012 Obama has tended to take this approach himself. Now, however, the president is openly praising two countries that confiscated — yes, confiscated — firearms. That matters — and a great deal.
Why? Well, because the president’s defenders like to mock those among his critics who argue that he wants to “take their guns away.” As of today, they will no longer be able to do so.
This is not “hysteria” or “a matter of opinion.” This is a cold, hard fact. If you praise Great Britain or Australia, you are praising confiscation. Before yesterday, Obama has always alluded to Australia in passing. Now he is praising it directly and adding Great Britain into the mix. That’s a significant change.
As I suggested on Morning Joe earlier today, would-be gun controllers such as Obama like to pretend that we all “know” deep down that there are “ways to prevent” gun violence, but that for some reason some of us are just too recalcitrant to get with the program. They are wrong. Contrary to the president’s implications, Britain and Australia are not “countries like ours” when it comes to the right to keep and bear arms; they are completely, utterly, extraordinarily different. When the British government banned handguns in 1997, there were fewer than half a million in circulation. Because there was almost no opposition, they were quickly collected up without fuss. Likewise, after the Australian government pushed through its ban in 1998, federal officials easily confiscated around 650,000 guns — between one third and one quarter of the total.
At present, there are around 350 million guns in circulation in the United States — more than one for every person living here — and the American people enjoy constitutional protection of their right to keep and bear them. If the American government did what Australia did in 1998, they would bring in about 100 million guns but leave between 200 to 250 million on the streets (about as many as there were in total in 1994). This, obviously would be rather pointless. More important, perhaps, such a move would lead to massive unrest, widespread civil disobedience, and possibly even a war.
Careful what you wish for.