For a frightening instant, it sounded as if Barack Obama, through some twisted stroke of cosmic freakiness, were back in the saddle, but it was only Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe making a fool of himself — and, in emblematic Democratic fashion, crassly refusing to let a crisis go to waste.
It should have come as no surprise. With the 2020 presidential elections already a large, glowing blip on the nation's political radar, McAuliffe, a likely Democratic contender — "Name one Democrat that can stop him" a Washington Examiner headline challenged — is hungry for camera time and headlines.
He pursued both like a starving wolf chasing a jackrabbit soon after Louisiana Rep. Steve Scalise, who is the GOP House majority whip, an aide, two police officers and a lobbyist were wounded in a hail of gunfire by a Trump-hating Bernie Sanders acolyte. The congressional Republicans were practicing in Alexandria, Virginia, a Washington, D.C., suburb across the Potomac, for a charity baseball game.
With the gunshots still echoing, McAuliffe, the quintessential Washington insider and a Clintonista, scared up cameras to knee-jerk for stricter gun control, as if that somehow would have saved the day. McAuliffe claimed, erroneously, that 93 million Americans — nearly 1 in 3 of us — die daily because of guns. "There are too many guns on the streets," McAuliffe told reporters.
On the contrary, and despite McAuliffe's assertion, more guns may, indeed, have been the answer at the baseball field. Perhaps if people there could have defended themselves with more than baseball bats and stern looks, the outcome may have been different. Moreover, the knowledge that people there might be armed could have been enough to dissuade an attacker.
Some in Washington, D.C., agree. In this era of rising violence against Republicans, Georgia Republican Rep. Barry Loudermilk is suggesting lawmakers with concealed carry permits in their home states be allowed to use them in Washington, D.C. Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn and North Carolina Republican Rep. Richard Hudson have introduced legislation that would require states to recognize concealed carry permits from other states. Forty-one states now have at least partial reciprocity.
Instead of pushing to disarm citizens — and somebody should tell the Left that horse long ago bolted the barn — the wise course would be to offer extensive firearms training and urge responsible, law-abiding Americans to legally carry their weapons to protect themselves and others. Cops cannot be everywhere.
Despite McAuliffe's claim of 93 million deaths a day (And who knows where that came from?) one death is far too many and, yes, preventing them all should be the goal, but draconian gun restrictions will not get us there. Neither McAuliffe, nor Obama, nor any of those on the Left who adamantly push for more restrictions accept the plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face reality: Gun control does not work and Americans love their guns.
There are more firearms in the United States than cars and trucks. There are somewhere between 300 million and 350 million guns across the land. Only two of them, it is worth noting, were at that Virginia baseball diamond in the hands of a bad guy. Scores of millions of guns were not involved in a crime that day — or the next, or the next. Frankly, they never will be. They are not the problem.
The problem is people, people who can and will kill the defenseless for just about any reason, people who would find a way to kill with whatever is at hand, even if every firearm in this country were melted into manhole covers. Evil will not be constrained by gun control, pure hearts or lofty ideals. It is best confronted by good people ready, willing and able to defend themselves and their loved ones.
Congress has not been much help. It is unable or unwilling to effectively deal with the evil among us or find a constitutionally acceptable way of keeping guns from the mentally ill. It is, understandably, a tricky business. It could easily be done, but this no longer would be a free nation.
While we wrestle with that, the Obamas and McAuliffes among us continue to push for further restrictions on the rights of rational, law-abiding citizens — the easiest people to control, but the least of the problem.
It is clear the Left is trapped in the past. It wants to do what it always has done: Got a problem? Pass another law, no matter that it ignores common sense or infringes on somebody's rights. That is not what America wants. Americans want laws already on the books enforced. They want criminals pursued and punished. They want a humane, constitutional answer to mental illness and guns. They want to be able to defend themselves.
What they do not want, or need, is more gun control.
Paul Jenkins is editor of the AnchorageDailyPlanet, a division of Porcaro Communications.