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It's politicians we need to control, not guns

  • GunRally_AP.jpg

    Jan. 9, 2013: Daniel White of Estes Park, Colo., waves a placard at a pro-gun rally as the Colorado Legislature opened its general session across the street in the State Capitol in Denver.AP

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    FILE: Dec. 22, 2012: People look over a table of handguns for sale at a gun show in Kansas City, Missouri.REUTERS

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    FILE: January 10, 2013: Vice President Joe Biden at a meeting on curbing gun violence at the White House in Washington, D.C.REUTERS

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    Dec. 19, 2012: President Obama stands with Vice President Biden as he speaks at the White House in Washington on policies to curb gun violence.AP

If laws were enough to deter criminal behavior prisons would be empty.

The latest effort to “control” guns in America is as likely to deter someone intent on breaking the law as outlawing lust would affect one’s libido. What’s in a heart can’t be controlled by restricting what’s in a hand.

Following the Newtown tragedy, President Obama vowed to seek the passage of an assault weapons ban and hastily assembled an administration-wide gun control task force, an effort that amounts to little more than a political act designed to impress what Rush Limbaugh calls “low-information voters.” Government must be seen doing something to keep mad men from shooting children and moviegoers, even if that something will likely prove ineffective.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way,” the proverb goes, and someone who has the will to kill with a gun is going to find a way (and a gun) no matter how many laws are passed. Consider Chicago where numerous anti-gun laws appear to have done little to stop gun deaths.

President Obama put Vice President Joe Biden in charge of the task force. Biden calls his gun control effort a “moral issue.” Does Biden suffer from selective morality? For him, same-sex marriage and abortion don’t appear to be moral issues, as they are for his Catholic church, but gun control is.

The loss of liberty always begins at the extremes, but it won’t stop there. Radicals won’t be satisfied with outlawing one type of gun. In 1995 Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), told “60 Minutes,” “If I could have gotten 51 votes in the Senate of the United States, for an outright ban, picking up (every gun) … Mr. and Mrs. America, turn ’em all in. I would have done it…” In 2004, when he was an Illinois state senator, Barack Obama voted against a bill that affirms the right of citizens to defend themselves against home invasions. The bill ultimately passed.

The Sandy Hook shooter reportedly stopped killing children and killed himself when law enforcement officers arrived on the scene. This contains no lesson for the gun control crowd, which mostly opposes armed guards in schools. Neither does it matter to them that recently a Georgia woman, Melinda Herman, shot an intruder when police couldn’t get to her home quickly enough, thus defending her life and the lives of her two children. To gun control advocates, guns decide whether they are used for good or evil, not the people who fire them.

If President Obama attempts to impose new restrictions on guns by executive order, not Congress, what can individuals do? I asked constitutional attorney John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute, “a nonprofit conservative legal organization dedicated to the defense of civil, especially religious, liberties and human rights.” “Even if the president has the authority to issue the executive order,” Whitehead replied by email, “the order may not violate the Constitution’s guarantees to individual liberty. If the order resulted in restrictions on gun ownership or possession that go beyond what is allowed under the Second Amendment, individuals who are harmed by the order could sue to have the order declared unconstitutional.”

We need to hear more stories of how law-abiding gun owners have managed to thwart criminals. As the predictable assault of anti-gun TV ads begins, the National Rifle Association should create its own ads with gun owners telling their stories of self-defense and crime prevention.

You know rational thinking is lacking when Pravda, Russia’s communist political newspaper, makes sense. In a recent article, Stanislav Mishin writes that after the Bolsheviks seized Moscow in 1917, they promised to leave alone the well-armed citizens if they did not interfere. “They did not and for that were asked afterwards,” writes Mishin, “to come register themselves and their weapons, whereupon they were promptly shot.”

The Second Amendment was written to protect citizens from tyrannical government and to preserve our liberties. It’s not primarily for the protection of hunters and target shooters, though they are included. Those politicians who wish to ignore the Constitution are the ones who need to be controlled, not law-abiding gun owners.

(c) 2013 TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.

Cal Thomas is America's most widely syndicated op-ed columnist. He joined Fox News Channel in 1997 as a political contributor. His latest book is "What Works: Common Sense Solutions for a Stronger America" is available in bookstores now. Readers may email Cal Thomas at tcaeditors@tribune.com.