For the first four years of Barack Obama’s presidency I chided him for being too nice to the Stupid Part of America. As they spread ridiculous conspiracy theories about him — that he’s really from Kenya, that he once worked as a “gay prostitute” to support his cocaine habit, that he’s secretly a shapeshifting lizard person, and, yes, that he is coming for every single gun any day now — the President opted to sit back and absorb the attacks as he focused on more important issues. Eventually, it seems, he realized that as long as he entertained such monumentally stupid notions without taking a few minutes of his time to obliterate them those who spend their lives spewing such nonsense will not give him the opportunity to focus on what is actually important.
Lately, the claws have come out. The President is no longer willing to simply accept the lies spread by the NRA, Fox News, Republican politicians, and other right-wing groups without stepping in to correct the record. Gun shop owner Doug Rhude is a product of the misinformation throws around by the Right. During a Q+A session following PBS News Hour, we were treated to the perfect example of what happens when misinformation, lies, and bigotry are allowed to bounce around a bubble for the better part of a decade:
Knowing that we apply common sense to other issues in our society, specifically like holding irresponsible people accountable for their actions when they drink and drive and kill somebody, and we do that without restricting control of cars and cells phones to the rest of us, the good guys, why then do you and Hillary want to control and restrict and limit gun manufacturers, gun owners and responsible use of guns and ammunition to the rest of us, the good guys, instead of holding the bad guys accountable for their actions?
As is customary, Rhude used Chicago as his go-to example of…something, demanding to know why “thugs” (the go-to conservative replacement word for “n*ggers”) in the city are hell-bent on murdering each other. After taking a moment to process the almost off-the-scale stupidity contained in Rhude’s statement/question, Obama politely yet brutally hit him with a massive truth bomb:
First of all, the notion that I or Hillary or Democrats or whoever you want to choose are hell-bent on taking away folks’ guns is just not true.
And I don’t care how many times the NRA says it. I’m about to leave office. There have been more guns sold since I have been president than just about any time in U.S. history. There are enough guns for every man, woman and child in this country.
And at no point have I ever, ever proposed confiscating guns from responsible gun owners. So it’s just not true.
“What I have said is precisely what you suggested, which is, why don’t we treat this like every other thing that we use?” Obama continued, pointing to another favorite right-wing go-to topic: auto fatality rates. Previously, conservatives were able to mindlessly point out that “more people are killed by cars” than guns. Unfortunately for them and fortunately for the rest of us, regulations and laws have decreased the automobile fatality rate to beneath the level of gun violence.
“The auto fatality rate has actually dropped precipitously, drastically, since I was a kid,” Obama said, asking rhetorically what is the cause of that. The President informed Rhude that — thanks to numerous regulations, lots of studies, and a strong and continuing effort — we have been able to reduce the number of people who die in cars. No one took everyone’s cars away — we simply arrived at the common sense decision to actually deal with the problem.
“We are not allowed to do any of that when it comes to guns because if you propose anything, it is suggested that we’re trying to take away gun rights and impose martial law,” Obama pointed out, adding that we can’t so much as study gun violence because Republicans in Congress have actually passed laws preventing this public health issue from being researched.
“The notion is that by studying it the same way we do with traffic accidents somehow it’s going to lead to everyone’s guns being confiscated,” Obama pointed out.
“I just came from a meeting today in the Situation Room in which I got people who we know have been on ISIL Web sites, living here in the United States, U.S. citizens, and we’re allowed to put them on the no-fly list when it comes to airlines, but because of the National Rifle Association, I cannot prohibit those people from buying a gun,” the President told Rhude. “This is somebody who is a known ISIL sympathizer. And if he wants to walk in to a gun store or a gun show right now and buy as much — as many weapons and ammo as he can, nothing’s prohibiting him from doing that, even though the FBI knows who that person is.”
Then he dropped the hammer:
So, sir, I just have to say, respectfully, that there is a way for us to have commonsense gun laws. There is a way for us to make sure that lawful, responsible gun owners like yourself are able to use them for sporting, hunting, protecting yourself, but the only way we’re going to do that is if we don’t have a situation in which anything that is proposed is viewed as some tyrannical destruction of the Second Amendment. And that’s how the issue too often gets framed.
While it is unlikely that Rhude, or any other right-wingers who heard the President’s words, learned a single thing, one thing is for certain: It’s nice to see Barack Obama standing up for himself.
Watch it yourself below:
Featured image via video screen captures