On the weekend I like to catch up with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central’s website. He’s really the only thing I miss about not having cable television for the past decade. This week, I was tickled by Mr. Stewart’s clever reportage on the press grilling a White House representative about Obama’s claim in the New Republic article that he goes skeet shooting at Camp David. Reporters wanted to see a photo as proof and asked why one had never been published. Clearly the lack of photographic proof casts suspicion on Obama’s claim, they inferred. Conservative pundits in the Daily Show montage reminded us that we’ve seen photos of Obama doing everything else, short of “flossing his teeth.” This made me laugh even harder: Have we seen him sitting on the toilet? Do we need to in order to prove that his excretory system works properly? Is there no right to privacy anymore?
So, the White House, in due course, released the following photo, reproduced far and wide, as here in an article in The New York Times:
And yet, the accusations continue: One photo is not proof that the President shoots “all the time” (which he did not claim, if you read the transcript: he said “we” do it, including guests, not that he does it). Firing a weapon is not proof that he supports the Second Amendment. His skeet-shooting claim and photo are a hypocritical, cynical political power play. Or one of my favorites, which I must quote in its entirety, as cited in the Times article:
“Representative Marsha Blackburn, Republican of Tennessee, went on CNN to question the assertion. ‘I tell you what I do think,’ Ms. Blackburn said. ‘I think he should invite me to Camp David, and I’ll go skeet shooting with him and I bet I’ll beat him.’ ”
Um, Ms. Blackburn, without questioning your sharp-shooting skills, what would it prove if you bested the President in a such a match, except your own petty incomprehension of the real issue? Perhaps the man just likes to try out new things from time to time? Who cares if he’s any good at it? Maybe he just wanted to see what all the fuss is about, walk a mile in someone else’s shoes? We can’t know, and we shouldn’t care. It is irrelevant to the problem and the attempts to address it through tightened gun control.
I feel compelled to point out, yet again, the real issue: asking for reasonable gun control, mandatory background checks, and yes, even a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines are not a denial of our Second Amendment rights, as quoted below:
“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”
Aside from the lack of a hyphen in well-regulated (when used before a noun), I do not take exception to this statement. Nowhere in the Second Amendment does it state that wanton and reckless gun use must be protected. Nowhere does it anticipate the individual right to maintain military-style, high-capacity weapons. In fact, quite the contrary, the Bill of Rights states explicitly that the right to bear arms must be “well regulated.” (no hyphen necessary after the verb “to be”)
And in no way does President Obama’s choice to fire a weapon on the shooting range at Camp David (whether a one-time thing or a regular activity) refute his right to pursue limitations — aka “regulations” — on gun ownership.
People should learn to read their Bill of Rights before they start popping off.