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Finley: Obama just jawboning on guns

Nolan Finley
The Detroit News

So President Barack Obama is angry that America has done nothing to change its gun laws despite a series of mass shootings throughout his presidency. He showed us that Thursday in yet another self-righteous, finger-wagging speech that he admits himself he’s tired of giving.

Not as tired as we are of hearing it.

He’s been rolling out these diatribes since the Newtown massacre, each time with the same passion and the same list of villains — congressional Republicans who won’t pass “common sense” gun laws, gun fanatics who cling to the Second Amendment above all else, backward Americans who won’t follow the enlightened lead of “every other country in the world.”

The moving speeches are warranted given the depth of the loss to families and communities, and the president’s genuine grief. But there is little follow-up.

After the killings at Sandy Hook early in his tenure, the president offered a series of proposals that would mostly expand background checks, improve databases for tracking gun sales and the mentally ill, reinstate the ban on so-called assault weapons and extend waiting periods for gun purchases.

Some of the ideas make sense, some don’t. But either way Obama has done little to get them passed into law except the occasional jawboning.

Instead, he keeps blaming a Congress controlled by the gun lobby for blocking reform. Yet unlike other issues important to him, the president has not bypassed Congress’ constitutional authority and enacted his agenda on guns through executive orders and regulatory agencies.

He doesn’t have the courage to. And he knows his proposals are mostly impotent measures that won’t stop a crazy person from getting a gun and going on a rampage.

Obama cited the response of Great Britain and Australia to mass shootings in those countries, suggesting they should serve as a model for the United States. But he carefully avoided talking about the specifics of what they adopted. They’re not even close to his tepid wish list.

Australia bans the semi-automatic rifles and shotguns that are found in every hunting blind in America. It requires purchasers to state a specific reason for buying a gun — personal protection is not considered a legitimate cause — and then wait nearly a month before receiving the firearm.

Owners of all weapons have to be licensed, and the permits expire after five years. Australia also has strict limits on ammunition purchases.

British citizens cannot own handguns or even pump-action shotguns.

In citing Australia and Great Britain as examples, does Obama envision their gun laws as right for America? If so, he should put it on the table. He should have the courage to tell America exactly how Australia and Britain control guns, and make the case for emulating them. Draft those bills and send them to Congress.

Instead, he climbs on his high horse and denounces the American culture. Well, change it. He’s not been shy about doing so in other areas, why not guns?

Because he’d rather bluster than admit the only certain way to end gun violence is to round up the 300 million private guns in America and melt them down.