In Greek mythology, a siren was an alluring creature that used its intoxicating song to lure sailors to their doom on hidden rocks.
In the days and weeks following January's horrific mass murder in Tucson, the chorus of voices calling for new gun laws was as predictable as the sun rising in the east.
Now, President Obama has joined in and is playing the role of siren with a call for "consensus" on gun control. But don't be fooled; the result of heeding that call would be the same for our Second Amendment rights as it was for those sailors of Greek myth.
Groups like the Brady Campaign and Mayors Against Illegal Guns (MAIG), along with all the usual anti-gun politicians, almost immediately called for new restrictions on our Second Amendment rights. The anti-gun crowd, frustrated by two years of inaction, saw the Tucson tragedy as an opportunity to move their agenda forward.
As they called for the president to address the issue, groups like MAIG released multi-part, anti-gun proposals. Meanwhile, anti-gun politicians such as U.S. Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, D-N.Y., and U.S. Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., introduced legislation in the hopes that Obama would endorse their anti-gun ideas.
On March 13, President Obama finally broke his silence--not in the national speech once promised by the White House, but in an op-ed published in the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson's leading daily newspaper.
Just like the siren's call, the president's tone was soothing and conciliatory, nothing like the hard-line rhetoric we hear from anti-gun leaders in Congress. "Now, like the majority of Americans," Obama stated in the op-ed, "I believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms."
But there's always a catch: "However," he continued, "I believe that if common sense prevails, we can get beyond wedge issues and stale political debates to find a sensible, intelligent way to make the United States of America a safer, stronger place."
That might sound great--until you consider what anti-gun groups and longtime anti-gun politicians like Obama consider "sensible" and "intelligent." Among the measures they often call "common sense laws" are things like gun and magazine bans, or banning all private sales of firearms, even to close friends or family.
Obama's words rang particularly hollow when his administration's first move after the article came out was a meeting with the leading opponents of gun owners' rights in America. They ring even hollower when you consider the administration's other actions, such as the proposals by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to collect multiple sales reports on millions of common rifles, or to ban the importation of an entire class of shotguns.
The next day, Wayne LaPierre and I responded to President Obama. Our full letter speaks for itself, and you can read it here.
Our message was simple: We are willing to work with everyone who truly respects the Second Amendment. However, that does not include a president who has surrounded himself with anti-gun advisors, or who has nominated two Supreme Court justices with clear records of hostility to the Second Amendment. Nor does it include the man who wants gun owners to sit down and search for "consensus" with anti-gun radicals. There will be no "beer summit" to compromise our freedoms.
The 2012 campaign is now officially under way, for the president as well as for the NRA. President Obama will again claim to be pro-Second Amendment. His actions, however, prove that his words have no more substance than a siren's song.