For the 15th time since taking office, he spoke to a nation again shaken to its core by yet another act of senseless hate and terror - this one with a single individual killing 49 and injuring 53 more at a gay nightclub in Orlando - becoming the largest mass shooting in American history.
Even as President Obama spoke early Sunday afternoon from the oval office, authorities were taking a suspect into custody in West Hollywood after discovering an arsenal in his car that included Tannerite powder, assault weapons and a camouflage outfit. The suspect told authorities that he was there for the Los Angeles Pride festival.
I was struck by the restraint exhibited by our president in those Sunday remarks, particularly because of his former passionate commentary on the insanity of allowing high capacity military grade assault weapons and group killing ammunition to remain nationally available with minimal federal controls.
These words have continually fallen on deaf elected ears. This pronounced intransigence has come despite widespread popular sentiment to the contrary and is due to collective congressional cowering in the face of powerful lobbying efforts by the National Rifle Association and its leader, Wayne “Dead Kids Don’t Vote” LaPierre.
The right for private individuals to bear arms as defined by the Second Amendment of our Constitution is hardly deemed “sacred” by anyone who can read beyond first grade level.
The exact wording says, “A well regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Get that? “Well regulated?” “Militia?” “Bear arms?” This is where Homer Simpson goes, “D’oh.”
Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens was appointed by Republican President Gerald Ford in 1975 and served for 35 years before retiring in 2010. Stevens contends that Federal judges understood for more than two centuries that the Second Amendment is limited and applies only to keeping and bearing arms for military purposes, nor does the amendment limit the power of state or local governments to regulate firearms.
Warren Burger, appointed to the Supreme Court by Republican Richard Nixon in 1969, served for 17 years as Chief Justice. Hardly a lily-livered liberal, Justice Burger categorically stated on the MacNeil/Leher News Hour following his retirement that the Second Amendment “has been the subject of one of the greatest pieces of fraud, I repeat the word ‘fraud,’ on the American public by special interest groups that I have ever seen in my lifetime.”
The subsequent 2008 landmark decision by a conservative Court in “District of Columbia v. Heller” establishing precedent for an individual to bear arms was determined by a single vote (5 to 4) and even this ruling was restricted to such matters as self defense within the home.
Now comes the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals in San Francisco in a decision only last Thursday upholding a California law that requires gun owners to show valid reason before being licensed to carry a concealed handgun. Tracing the rights of gun owners from medieval England to the founding of the United States and through the Civil War, the Court ruled 7 to 4 that local laws have traditionally and almost universally prohibited such without requiring sufficient cause.
Conservative Breitbart News immediately leapt into action with screaming headlines declaring,“Only Donald Trump Can Save Our Gun Rights” and “Hillary Clinton Will Abolish The Second Amendment.” Both of these observations are tragically misinformed and insipidly stupid. So is the constant drone of ignorant allegations ever since he took office in 2009 that “Obama will take away our guns.” He hasn’t, he wouldn’t and he won’t. Barack Obama just wants common sense restored to an enormously critical dialogue.
Welcome to Yosemite, Mr. President. Here’s hoping a well-earned visit to our beautiful region will prove both restful and restorative as the National Park Service prepares to celebrate its 100th Anniversary.
And thank you for your service to this country as our commander in chief. You’ve worked for peace, brought troops home and done much in restoring our national honor following tragic misadventures in the Middle East initiated by your predecessor and his administration, however unwittingly.
May you and your family travel safely and securely on your journey through God’s country - and all travels ahead.
You have led us well.