Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Constitution takes hit in fight ‘for the children’

Friday, Dec. 14, the tragic killing of six adults and 20 elementary age children in Newtown, Conn., will go down in history as a game-changer in American culture and politics. Not only is the loss of innocent life nearly too great to bear -- Death stole God's littlest, and in that respect, the pain will linger a bit longer, dig a tiny deeper -- but the ensuing talk among politicians has struck a different tone.

It's almost as if the debate on gun control has come to an end. Suddenly, senators with solid pro-Second Amendment views, like West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Virginia's Mark Warner, are back-peddling and softening, suggesting opened minds to stricter laws. The National Rife Association shut down its Facebook page and halted its daily tweets, as hateful anti-gun comments spewed. And mainstream media pounced, led by CNN's leftist Piers Morgan who, just hours after the shooting, shrilly demanded America "get angry" and give up the guns.

By Monday, Dec. 17, White House spokesman Jay Carney had this to say, in response to a reporter's questions about Obama's policy plans for gun control: "As you know, the president has taken positions on common sense measures that he believes should be taken to help address this problem. But he made clear that more needs to be done. That we as a nation have not done enough, clearly, to fulfill our number one obligation, which is to protect our children."

What's significant about Carney's comments is the last statement -- that part where he slides in the top role of the administration he represents is to protect children. It's not. It's to uphold the Constitution. That is, after all, what the president takes an oath to defend, not the children.

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States," which comes directly from Article 2, Section One, of the Constitution.

That may be an unpopular view in this day and age of government entitlements, and especially harsh in the emotional wake of Friday's killings, when the nation is clamoring for answers and understanding and politicians from both parties are struggling to provide the solutions. But the simple facts are: Our government is not a parent. Our government is not a family guardian. Our government is not God. And as a matter of fact, for the president, constitutionally awarded powers are surprisingly slight. He's commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy, and the National Guard; he can make treaties, with the aid of the Senate; he can appoint Supreme Court judges, ambassadors and executive officers; he can fill vacancies by granting commissions for a certain period of time. He's supposed to be constrained; the Founding Fathers did not want a king.

Demanding a clamp-down on constitutionally protected gun rights just hours after tragedy is not only morally weak, as it takes advantage of an emotionally charged atmosphere to advance a political agenda better left to logical minds and rule of law. But it's also political cowardice. Politicians should have the strength of character to be true leaders -- and that means standing by principles in good times and in bad, against gale-force winds just as in balmy breeze. True leaders don't try to take advantage of others; true leaders stand strong against the storm, wait for calm to prevail, and trust in the principles that put them in that position.

Leaders of character wouldn't piggyback legislation on Newtown's children. That Obama's administration is fueling the drive with a "for the children" argument is a dangerous act that only threatens to chip even more from our block of constitutional freedoms and degrade even further from our American core: Rights come from God, not government.

In July, the White House stance on gun control, according to Carney was this: "There are things that we can do, short of legislation and short of gun laws, as the president said, that can reduce violence in our society. We do need to take a broader look at what we can do to reduce violence in America. And that's not just legislative, and it's not about gun laws."

Where's that viewpoint now?

Let the mourning go forth, unfettered by politics. Anything else is only agenda-driven hysterics, perpetrated by either well-meaning, heart-broken observers who simply don't have the facts, or worse, by all-understanding political activists and leaders who hate to let a crisis go to waste.


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