Obama takes on gun-violence issue
Much as some people wish otherwise, efforts to reduce violence with stepped-up gun-control laws have largely failed.
President Barack Obama was scheduled today to propose a series of dramatic changes in federal gun-control laws that are aimed at reducing firearms-related violence.
Calling his proposals "sensible, common-sense steps," Obama wants new restrictions on the sale of semi-automatic weapons, stepped up background checks of individuals who wish to buy firearms and limits on the size of gun magazines.
Whether Congress will go along is in some doubt. After all, a president proposes and Congress disposes.
But Obama has taken his case to the right venue — the national government's law-making body.
Of greater concern is the president's plan to issue a series of executive orders — 19, according to news reports — aimed at limiting gun imports, mandating that federal agencies share mental-health information and directing studies to be made on gun-violence issues. People will just have to wait until they all are announced before reaching any conclusions.
But if past is prologue, one can expect Obama to stretch the limits of his power to issue executive orders. He has a bad habit of simply ordering changes in law that ought to be decided by Congress. His abuse of the recess-appointment process is just one example of him ignoring the constitutional limits on executive power.
Of greatest importance, however, is not what the president proposes or how he proposes to do it.
The real problem is that history has shown that laws aimed at restricting the right of law-abiding citizens to possess guns have failed to reduce gun violence.
Unfortunately, the cliche that when guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns has proved to be largely true.
Criminals ignore gun laws. If they did not, Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the country, would not be the murder capital of the United States.
It's perfectly understandable that citizens and public officials feel compelled to take action in the aftermath of the school shooting in Connecticut. But passing gun laws for their own sake is about as effective as the so-called security checks imposed on visitors to the Assembly Hall. They may make some people feel better, but it's a false sense of security.
Nevertheless, President Obama's legislative package deserves a thorough review. He may have some proposals that might contribute to reducing the problem. If he does, Obama will have succeeded where others before him have tried mightily and failed.