January 16, 2013
President Obama signs executive orders on reducing gun violence (Charles Dharapak)
President Obama signs executive orders on reducing gun violence (Charles Dharapak/AP)

“This will be difficult,” President Obama said today in announcing the 23 executive actions and four legislative proposals to curb gun violence. And if you want to know why getting meaningful measures to curb gun violence through Congress will be so arduous, just have a listen to Erich Pratt, director of communications for Gun Owners of America. His interview on Andrea Mitchell’s eponymous MSNBC show this afternoon was a revealing look at the fevered thinking within the gun-rights movement.

Pratt told Mitchell that he didn’t support anything the president proposed. “We shouldn’t be registering [gun owners] like sex offenders, like they are in New York,” he said referring to that state’s tough new assault weapons ban. “We shouldn’t be in any way be impeding them if they have not committed a crime.”

Pratt tried to make the case that Obama was pursuing a worthless cause by citing a Gallup poll  that didn’t list gun control as a top problem facing the country. For the record, “Guns/Gun control” came in seventh. But when Mitchell asked Pratt whether he thought the National Rifle Association went “over the line” in targeting the president’s children in a web ad released today, Pratt said, “Based on this poll, he should have been apologizing to those children for breaking their piggy banks to pay off the national debt.”

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When Mitchell pressed Pratt about which children he was referring to, he said the children on stage with Obama. He basically accused the president of using them as “human shields,” a crackpot assertion made directly by Rush Limbaugh and World Net Daily.

When Mitchell pushed Pratt on this issue, he said, “Why is it over the line for the NRA to talk about children, but it’s not over the line for the president to bring in children? That’s the disconnect.” As Mitchell pointed out, those children were there because they’d written to the president after Newtown and were there voluntarily with their parents. Pratt also tried to duck by saying Republican children of presidents were always fair game, a false claim Mitchell smacked down quickly.

But the asinine nature of the debate to come over the president’s gun proposals was revealed in Pratt’s mewling about a “double standard.”

The double standard is that in a 15-block area of Capitol Hill, there’s 1,800 Capitol Hill officers to protect them. How many armed adults are protecting our children right now at their schools? It is not a sanctuary and that’s the magnet that is attracting criminals. That’s why when you see the mass shootings over the last 20 years with the exception of one, they all occurred in gun-free zones. And that’s because these guys, they don’t want to go shoot up a police station or a gun store or a gun show where guns are going to be pointed back at them. They want to be the only one with a gun.

This is the same insulting logic spouted by the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre just one week after the slaughter at Newtown claimed the lives of 20 six- and seven-year-olds and six adults. And it’s people like Pratt who could derail even modest efforts to bring a modicum of sanity to the nation’s gun laws.

Heaven help us all.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.