During his eulogy at a memorial service for the five police officers killed last week in Dallas, TX., President Obama criticized easy access to firearms, noting, “we flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.” Even though a majority of Americans support strengthening lax gun laws, conservative media slammed Obama for his remark, calling him “the worst,” “an asshat,” and “nakedly divisive.”
President Obama Calls For Unity In Speech After Dallas Shooting
Obama Mentioned Guns While Speaking At Memorial For Dallas Officers. President Obama gave a speech at a memorial service in Dallas, TX, eulogizing fallen police officers killed on July 7 after a Black Lives Matter demonstration. During the speech, Obama called for unity and stated that the country is “not as divided as we seem.” During his speech, the president saying, “we flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book”:
President Obama said on Tuesday that the nation mourned with Dallas for five police officers gunned down by a black Army veteran, but he implored Americans not to give in to despair or the fear that “the center might not hold.”
“I’m here to insist that we are not as divided as we seem,” Mr. Obama said at a memorial service for the officers in Dallas, where he quoted Scripture, alluded to Yeats and at times expressed a sense of powerlessness to stop the racial violence that has marked his presidency. But Mr. Obama also spoke hard truths to both sides.
Addressing a crowd of 2,000 at a concert hall, the president chided the police for not understanding what he called the legitimate grievances of African-Americans, who he said were victims of systemic racial bias.
But the president also turned to the protesters of the Black Lives Matter movement and said they were too quick to condemn the police. “Protesters, you know it,” Mr. Obama said. “You know how dangerous some of the communities where these police officers serve are, and you pretend as if there’s no context. These things we know to be true.”
It was the poignant speech of a man near the end of his patience about a scourge of violence that he said his own words had not been enough to stop. Mr. Obama spoke after a week in which the police killed two black men, in Minnesota and Louisiana, and Micah Johnson, the Army veteran, killed the five officers in Dallas.
“I’ve spoken at too many memorials during the course of this presidency,” Mr. Obama said. “I’ve hugged too many families. I’ve seen how inadequate words can be in bringing about lasting change. I’ve seen how inadequate my own words have been.”
Many conservatives were angry about a reference Mr. Obama made in his remarks to gun control, when he said that “we flood communities with so many guns that it is easier for a teenager to buy a Glock than get his hands on a computer or even a book.” [The New York Times, 7/11/16]
Right-Wing Media Slam Obama For “Pound[ing] Gun Control Message” During Memorial Service
Herman Cain: Obama “Politicize[d] Guns And Violence In This Country” In His Speech. On Fox & Friends, conservative radio host and former Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain criticized Obama’s mention of guns, saying “That was not time or place to politicize guns and violence” and that he was “disappointed when [Obama] got to that point.” Fox’s Pete Hegseth agreed with Cain, calling his criticisms “spot on.” From the July 13 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:
CLAYTON MORRIS (HOST): Mr. Cain, your thoughts on the president’s comments yesterday?
HERMAN CAIN: If you take a balloon and you put air in it, you reach a point where if you put too much air in it, it will burst. The president politicized what was a great speech up to that point. That was no time or place to politicize guns and violence in this country. He should have just stayed within the context of a memorial service for five of our heroes. I was disappointed when he got to that point and he continued. And I believe that a lot of people felt the same way. You don't have to politicize everything, but this president can't help himself. And a lot of the American people are beginning to see that.
MORRIS: Mr. Herman Cain.
PETE HEGSETH (HOST): Straight shooter always. I think you're spot on. We appreciate you joining us this morning. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 7/13/16]
The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro: “Cops Murdered By Racist. Obama Eulogizes Them By Lying About Cops And Gun Control. What A Nasty Piece Of Goods.”
Cops murdered by racist. Obama eulogizes them by lying about cops and gun control. What a nasty piece of goods.
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 12, 2016
Ben Shapiro: “‘You Know What This Memorial For Slain Police Officers Could Use? My Stump Speech On Gun Control.’ -- An Asshat.”
“You know what this memorial for slain police officers could use? My stump speech on gun control.” -- An asshat
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) July 12, 2016
TheBlaze’s Dana Loesch: “Obama Pounds Gun Control Message At A Memorial For Fallen Officers. Floored.”
Obama pounds gun control message at a memorial for fallen officers. Floored.
— Dana Loesch (@DLoesch) July 12, 2016
Fox’s Katie Pavlich: “How Am I Surprised Obama Would Use A Memorial For Police To Lecture About Gun Control And Politics? He Is The Worst.”
How am I surprised Obama would use a memorial for police to lecture about gun control and politics? He is the worst.
— Katie Pavlich (@KatiePavlich) July 12, 2016
Fox News Contributor Richard Grenell: “Obama Has Turned The Dallas Memorial Service Into His Own Political Rally On Gun Control.”
Obama has turned the Dallas Memorial Service into his own political rally on gun control.
— Richard Grenell (@RichardGrenell) July 12, 2016
National Review: “Who Thought It Would Be A Good Idea To Make Such A Nakedly Divisive Statement At A Memorial Service”? In an article headlined “Who Thought That Politicizing Obama’s Speech Was A Good Idea?” National Review’s Charles C. W. Cooke criticized Obama for mentioning guns in his speech, calling the statement “flatly preposterous,” and writing that “it wasn’t a rally … it was a funeral.” From the July 12 article:
For now, I shall ignore this flatly preposterous claim, and ask a question instead: Why did the president say this?
I appreciate that, from Obama’s perspective, gun control is important. I also understand that, from Obama’s perspective, there is nothing to be gained by “depoliticizing” this issue. He wants legislative change; his opponents don’t. If he remains quiet on the matter he has no chance whatsoever of winning.
But did this little moment really serve to help his cause? Twenty minutes ago, almost everyone I know thought that the president was doing a good job with his address. Now, at least half of them are irritated and upset. On Twitter, a debate over books and Glocks has broken out. People are shouting at one another. Where there was harmony, now there is discord.
This, remember, was a funeral — a funeral for one of the police officers who was murdered last Thursday. It wasn’t a rally. It wasn’t a White House press conference. It wasn’t a public statement, hastily arranged on the airport tarmac. It was a funeral. Presumably, those attending had all sorts of political opinions. Presumably, some of the cops were Republicans. Presumably, there was some serious disagreement in that room as to how the country should move forward. Wouldn’t it have been better to wait until the proceedings were over to call for change? Wouldn’t it have been more politically effective for the president to have made his push somewhere else? [National Review, 7/12/16]
New Polls Show High Support For Stronger Gun Laws
CNN: Public Support For Gun Safety Measures Increased After Orlando Gay Nightclub Mass Shooting. According to a June 20 CNN/ORC poll, public support for “tougher gun laws” is at its highest since 2013 polls following the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting. The poll shows strong public support for expanding background checks and preventing those on a federal terrorism watchlist from buying guns, among both self-identified Democrats and Republicans. From the June 20 CNN.com article:
Support for tighter gun control laws increased 9 percentage points after the Orlando terror attack, and support for background checks and other measures being debated in the Senate hovered around 90%, according to CNN/ORC poll released Monday.
The support for tougher gun laws rose to 55% in the newest poll -- the highest number since just one month after the shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, in January 2013.
But support for specific gun control measures was very strong, with 92% saying they wanted expanded background checks, 87% supporting a ban for felons or people with mental health problems and 85% saying they would ban people on federal watchlists from buying guns. Among Republicans, that number is even higher -- 90% say they favor preventing people on the terror watch list or “no fly” list from buying a gun. That number is at 85% for Democrats. [CNN.com, 6/20/16]