Near the close of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, the president ramped up the rhetoric to a crescendo. He saved all his oratory for gun control: “What I’ve said tonight matters little if we don’t come together to protect our most precious resource — our children.”
“This is not the first time this country has debated how to reduce gun violence. This time is different,” he said, an obvious reference to the Newtown elementary school tragedy.
Obama then referred to other gun violence victims, beginning with Hadiya Pendleton, a girl killed by a gang in Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun laws and the highest levels of gun violence in the nation. With each name he mentioned, the president demanded a congressional vote on gun control:
Hadiya’s parents, Nate and Cleo, are in this chamber tonight, along with more than two dozen Americans whose lives have been torn apart by gun violence. They deserve a vote.
Gabby Giffords deserves a vote. The families of Newtown deserve a vote. The families of Aurora deserve a vote. The families of Oak Creek, and Tucson, and Blacksburg, and the countless other communities ripped open by gun violence — they deserve a simple vote.
The grandiloquence had the desired effect. The president received a thunderous standing ovation.
National Rifle Association spokesman Wayne LaPierre fired back in a Daily Caller op-ed titled “Stand and Fight” the following day and in a speech on Thursday.
In the op-ed, LaPierre described the problems encountered by Latin American drug cartels along U.S. borders, requiring area residents to arm themselves with “their choice about which firearm is right for their family.”
LaPierre then related the experience of victims during the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy:
After Hurricane Sandy, we saw the hellish world that the gun prohibitionists see as their utopia. Looters ran wild in south Brooklyn. There was no food, water or electricity. And if you wanted to walk several miles to get supplies, you better get back before dark, or you might not get home at all.
LaPierre’s speech the next day followed the same theme.
On Thursday, MSNBC “Hardball” host Chris Matthews had as his guests political analyst Ed Rendell and U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.
LaPierre’s statements left Matthews and his guests apoplectic.
“It’s ‘Reign of Terror’ talk like the French Revolution,” Matthews began. “Get your gun, you’re the one next.”
“Not only is it crazy stuff,” Rendell said, “but it has heavy racial overtones.”
To Matthews and his ilk, I can only say this: If you want to have a debate, let’s have it. But learn to be civilized about it. Name-calling never promotes reasonable debate — it ends it, and in a very unpleasant way.
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