There are a lot of reasons to gig President Obama about gun control, but saying he broke a promise about it isn't one of them. Like the "broken promises" stories about immigration reform and his failure to close the detention camp at Guantanamo, it's a distortion.
(You can see more about the immigration reform żbroken promiseż lie here.)
The truth is, he never promised to push for more gun restrictions. He took the namby-pamby politician's approach of saying more should be done, but he never really promised to do it himself.
Gun control is an anaconda no one wants to wrestle. And, despite tragedies like the Aurora shooting, Virginia Tech and Columbine, the people of the United States generally resist the idea of gun control.
Still, the president has waded into this one a few times.
He did it just last year, after a madman opened fire outside an Arizona grocery store, shooting Congresswoman Gabriel Giffords and 18 others, killing six.
"We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence," Obama said. "We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of such violence in the future."
He called for a "national conversation" about gun safety.
The response: Dead silence. You could hear the crickets chirping.
It wasn't the first time. When then-candidate Obama was running for president rumors ran rampant that he intended to institute a gun ban. Gun sales skyrocketed. (It's happening again, propelled yet again by similar fears among conspiracy theorists.)
In fact, during his 2008 campaign he answered reporter's questions right after the shootings on the campus of Northern Illinois University. He didn't call for federal rules. Instead, he supported leaving restrictions up to local government.
"The city of Chicago has gun laws, so does Washington, DC," Obama said. "The notion that somehow local jurisdictions can't initiate gun safety laws to deal with gangbangers and random shootings on the street isn't borne out by our Constitution."
Asked about his position on the Second Amendment, he switched into his "Obama the Wonk" mode. He laid out a scholarly review, long on philosophy, short on concrete details.
"There's been a long standing argument by constitutional scholars about whether the Second Amendment referred simply to militias or it spoke to an individual right to possess arms. I think the latter is the better argument. There is an individual right to bear arms, but it is subject to common-sense regulation just like most of our rights are subject to common-sense regulation. So I think there's a lot of room before you getting bumping against a constitutional barrier for us to institute some of the common-sense gun laws that I just spoke about."
Among the "common-sense regulations" were closing the gun show loopholes which allows people to buy guns without a background check. But he didn't make a promise. In fact, he seemed to pointedly avoid making one.
Even that got him roasted by the NRA.
That's how touchy the subject is -- even when a you don't say anything, you get smacked.
Now comes Aurora. Obama says, without too many specifics, there should be background checks and ways to keep "mentally unbalanced" people from getting guns.
He again said he supports the Second Amendment and the right to bear arms, but, "I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that an AK-47 belongs in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals. That they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities."
"These steps shouldn't controversial," he continued. "They should be common sense."
It almost seemed like he was throwing out a challenge to Congress to take it up.
The response: More crickets.
Aurora's dead are barely buried and the national conversation is reduced to politicians clearing their throats uncomfortably.
Senate Majority Leader harry Reid nailed the issue shut just days after the Aurora theater massacre. He said he supported the president's views, but the Senate is too busy this year to take up gun control.
"What about next year?" a reporter asked.
"Nice try," Reid said.
Conclusion: Blame Obama if you want. He didn't really promise anything. But he probably should. Still, it's not entirely up to him. When he throws out softballs like he did after the Giffords and Aurora shootings, someone ought to at least take a swing.
Next up, Guantanamo. Obama swore he would close the suspected terrorist prison at Guantanamo and bring the accused to trial in the United States. It never happened. Why?
Source: Terra/Carlos Harrison