(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
You knew this was coming. If you understood yesterday what President Obama was planning to announce, the executive action he was going to be taking to help finally curb gun violence in this country, you knew exactly what today would be like. You knew you'd be able to stick your head out of a window wherever you are and hear the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the gun fetishists on the American right as they ranted about liberty and how the oh-so-precious Second Amendment "shall not be infringed!" You knew there would be cries of "tyranny" and defiant demands to try to "come take it" from people for whom firearms are the defining feature of their identity. You knew the NRA and Fox News would lose their fucking minds. And of course, there would be threats -- threats against the President of the United States from self-styled patriots.
Now make no mistake: What President Obama did today isn't a "gun grab." Nobody's guns or their right to own guns is being taken away here and if you want a gun, very little is going to stand in the way of your getting one. All Obama's executive actions have done is close the unconscionable loophole that allowed unlicensed dealers and private individuals to sell guns without conducting background checks -- or even asking for an ID -- and tighten those background checks, particularly for those who are buying guns like assault rifles. What he's doing, in the larger scheme of things, isn't much -- and that's the great irony of it when you compare the action to the reaction from the right. But even though it just begins to scratch the surface of what needs to be done to bring the bloodshed and carnage to a stop in this country -- it's something. It's more than anyone in Congress has been willing to do for years.
Still, the absolute fact that the president's executive order will only tighten existing laws and won't end in U.S./U.N. shock-troops going door to door to confiscate guns is of course doing nothing to deter the foaming-at-the-mouth backlash from the raving paranoiacs who always knew this day was coming. The mere sight of Obama flanked by victims of gun violence and their families, an understandable tear in his eye when he talked about the 20 children killed at Sandy Hook, was enough to draw the sociopaths out of their holes, the very people who've held sensible gun safety legislation at bay for years. They mocked Obama for "crying" (because displaying emotion is for European pussies) and accused him of using a "raw onion" to create "fake tears" over dead kids (because Fox News's Andrea Tantaros is a pissy little half-wit).
Even now they're tearing up social media, calling Obama a fascist (because they have no idea what that word means) while Republican lawmakers and leaders attack him like he just suggested replacing the stars and stripes on the American flag with an image of Jesus making the devil's horns sign while having sex with a dead fetus. Muslim-bearded Paul Ryan says he's trying to upend the Constitution, while Ted Cruz took time out from pimping his own children as part of his futile presidential campaign to have a picture of Obama as a jackboot created for his website. Across the image are the words "Obama Wants Your Guns." Because, of course. It's a convenient scare tactic rooted in utter fantasy. Again, Obama doesn't want your goddamn guns. He wants to stop the wrong people from getting their hands on guns sold from here on out -- a goal shared by an overwhelming number of Americans.
At some point, somebody in this country had to say enough. Somebody had to cut through the bullshit obstruction that was the product of a handful of gun-worshipping lunatics, the gunmakers from whom they buy, and their very powerful lobby in Washington. Too much blood has been spilled. We've seen too many of our fellow Americans -- men, women and children -- killed and buried so that our sick national love affair with heavy weaponry can go on unabated. The Constitution may have arguably allowed the right of private individuals to keep and bear arms, but the Bill of Rights promised each of us the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We have a right to feel relatively safe within our own country. We have a right not to fear being shot dead by some monster exercising his Second Amendment right to accumulate the kind of firepower that was once reserved for the military. What about those rights?
We shouldn't have to bend for this grotesque funhouse mirror of a civilized America and arm ourselves to the teeth so we can fight back if necessary. Our children shouldn't have that life to not only look forward to but to live right now. We shouldn't have to live in fear and chalk it up to the price of liberty. An unending body count was never part of the social contract to be an American and it wasn't something the almighty Founders ever could have anticipated with their limited imaginations. Nobody who isn't a psychopath signed up for this.
So they can shout to their white, blue-eyed Jesus in the heavens about how their right to a handheld death machine on demand has to be maintained at all costs. They can complain about what Obama did today all they want. The fact is, he did the right thing. He did the right fucking thing. It's something at least, a move in the right direction for a country that's seen its name become synonymous with wanton slaughter. This has been a hell of a long time coming. Tough shit if they don't like it.