On Thursday, President Obama held a town-hall style meeting hosted and broadcast live by CNN and moderated by Anderson Cooper titled “Guns in America.” It came on the heels of Obama’s Tuesday announcement detailing executive actions intended to beef up background checks for guns sales and enact other gun control measures. There were a variety of individuals allowed to speak and ask Obama questions. This story from CNN provides a concise rundown of the major talking points that came up during the 75-minute meeting at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. (The NRA declined an invitation to participate.)
Kim Corban, a rape victim from Colorado, told the President that owning a firearm makes her feel safer. Obama responded by saying there’s “nothing we’re proposing that prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one.”
Obama said that the notion his actions are intended to lead to a confiscation of Americans’ guns is a conspiracy.
“I’m sorry, but yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy,” Obama said to Cooper. “What are you saying? Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody’s guns away so that we can enforce marshal law is a conspiracy? Yes, that is a conspiracy. I would hope you would agree with that. Is that controversial?”
Obama also blamed Congress, and in turn the NRA, for not embracing his call to ramp up funding for the BATF, something that was also part of his executive action. Taya Kyle, the wife of the late and highly decorated Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle who was murdered at a shooting range, asked Obama about what many see as the false promise of gun control, according to realclearpolitics.com.
“We want to think that we can make a law and people will follow it. By the very nature of their crime, they’re not following it. By the very nature of looking at the people who hurt our loved ones here, I don’t know that any of them would have been stopped by the background check. And yet, I crave that desire for hope, too. And so I think part of it we have to recognize that we cannot outlaw murder because people who are murdering, right, are — they’re breaking the law, but they also don’t have a moral code that we have. And so they could do the same amount of damage with a pipe bomb. The problem is that they want to murder,” Kyle said to Obama.
She went on to highlight the fact that, while gun ownership is at an all-time high in the U.S., the murder rate is at its lowest in decades, yet people feel more unsafe than ever, suggesting efforts should be made to clarify where America really is in relation to violence.
“And I understand that background checks aren’t necessarily going to stop me from getting a gun,” Kyle said. “But I also know that they wouldn’t have stopped any of (these people) from killing. And so it seems like almost a false sense of hope.”
Obama responded by thanking Taya and her husband for their service and by saying: “What you said about murder rates and violent crime generally is something that we don’t celebrate enough. The fact of the matter is that violent crime has been steadily declining across America for a pretty long time. And you wouldn’t always know it by watching television, but overall, most cities are much safer than they were 10 years ago or 20 years ago.
“I challenge the notion that the reason for that is more gun ownership, because when you look at where are the areas with the highest gun ownership, those are the places in some cases where the crime hasn’t dropped down that much. In the places where there are pretty stiff restrictions on gun ownership, in some of those places the crime has dropped really quickly so I’m not sure there’s a one-to-one correlation there.
“But I think the most important point I want to make is that you will be able to purchase a firearm. Some criminals will get their hands on firearms even if there’s a background check. Somebody may lie on a form. Somebody will intend to commit a crime, but they don’t have a record that shows up on the background check system.
“But, in the same way that we don’t eliminate all traffic accidents, but, over the course of 20 years, traffic accidents get lower — there’s still tragedies. There’s still drunk drivers. There’s still people who don’t wear their seat belts, but over time, that violence was reduced, and so families are spared.
“That’s the same thing that we can do with gun ownership. There is a way for us to set up a system where you, a responsible gun owner who — I’m assuming, given your husband and your family, is a much better marksman than I am — can have a firearm to protect yourself, but where it is much harder for somebody to fill up a car with guns and sell them to 13-year-old kids on the streets.
“And — and that is, I think, what we’re trying to do. What we’re also trying to do is make the database more effective, so that’s part of the proposal — which, by the way, will convenience you when you go to the store, because if we can set up a 24/7 background check system, then that means that it’s less likely that things slip through the cracks or it’s more difficult for you to — to get your background check completed.
“And we’re also trying to close a loophole that has been developing over the last decade, where now, people are using cut-out trusts and shell corporations to purchase the most dangerous weapons — sawed-off shotguns, automatic weapons, silencers — and don’t have to go through background checks at all.”