Last week President Barack Obama answered a few questions after participating in a PBS NewsHour town hall meeting in Elkhart, Ind. A local gun shop owner, Doug Rhude, stood up in the audience and asked: “Knowing that we apply common sense to other issues in our society, specifically holding irresponsible people accountable for their actions when they drink and drive and kill somebody; and we do that without restricting control of cars and cell phones to the rest of us, the good guys; why then, do you and Hillary want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners, and the responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?”
Rhude didn’t sit down after asking his question. Rather, he stood silently as President Obama didn’t even try to answer his question, but instead went off on a defensive tirade: “First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true. And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it.”
Obama then said, “I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I’ve been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country. And at no point have I ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it is just not true.”
Now, Rhude could have interrupted the president to mention that Obama really hasn’t had the opportunity to do that. Congress writes the laws, not the president. He could then have listed the many attacks on the right to bear arms—from Operation Fast and Furious to Operation Choke Point to Obama’s attempted ban on common ammunition for AR-15-type rifles to his using a “pen and phone” to push anti-gun executive actions. But Rhude respectfully stayed silent. First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true. — President Barack Obama
President Obama then continued his lecture—still without answering Rhude’s question: “I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I’ve got people who we know have been on ISIL websites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the No-Fly List when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun.”
Now, again, Rhude could have said, “Ah, Mr. President that’s a secret government black list that even the late Sen. Ted Kennedy found himself on for reasons never made public. People are added with no due process, and it is nearly impossible to get off, even if you are not guilty of anything. What if I accidentally clicked on a website sympathizing with ISIL? Would that mean I would lose my gun rights for life?”
But he didn’t. Rhude just politely listened.
President Obama then jumped from plural to singular (was it just one person all along?) as he said, “This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer, and if he wants to walk into a gun store or a gun show right now, and buy as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing is prohibiting him from that.”
At this point, anyone listening was likely thinking, “Why don’t you bust that guy right now? If he goes to buy a gun, will an FBI agent be watching, ready to make an arrest?”
Instead of explaining any of that, President Obama used this as a transition to continue avoiding Rhude’s original question, “So, sir, I just have to say, respectfully, that there is a way for us to have common-sense gun laws ... but the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t have a situation in which anything that is proposed is viewed as some tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment.”
Rhude never had a chance to say another word. Nevertheless, it must have been clear to him—given Obama’s clear record on the Second Amendment—that “common sense” to a politician like the president leaves plenty of room for almost any kind of infringement on our right to keep and bear arms.