President Obama's list of executive orders and legislative proposals intended to reduce firearms deaths in the United States is reasonable, balanced and worthy of support. The program, entitled "Now Is the Time," does not, and would not, violate the Second Amendment or deny any American reasonable means of defending their persons, families and property.
Suggestions such as the one that drifted up from Washington County the other day that the state of Utah can or should nullify those actions within its borders is an irrational reaction that might sound good in a tea party fundraising appeal, but makes no rational or constitutional sense.
No amount of orders or laws will completely protect us and our children from the acts of crazy people with weapons. But it would be an unnecessary and uncivilized capitulation to a life of fear and violence if we were not to take the kind of actions that the president is now behind.
What should be notable about the president's plan, announced Wednesday, is how much of it mirrors actions advocated by the National Rifle Association and other gun-rights groups. Rather than simply ban a wide range of weapons or expect that any kind of gun confiscation program would be accepted or practical, the Obama plan highlights such things as being more proactive about treating and monitoring people known to be mentally ill, stationing police officers and taking other security measures to protect schools, and doing a better job of enforcing existing laws.
The president is calling for a renewed prohibition of military-style assault weapons, of ammo clips that carry more than 10 rounds and of armor-piercing bullets. He also wants background checks for all firearm purchases, not just those conducted by a licensed dealer. Those are among the proposals that will require acts of Congress to be realized.
On his own, though, Obama is ordering a raft of actions, ranging from simple letters encouraging gun dealers to share their background-check system with individual gun sellers, to better tracking of gun thefts and illegal firearms uses. Most important is the president's plan to have agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control gather unbiased scientific data on the deaths and injury caused by guns, a most rational act that Congress has long sought to ban.
Not one of these acts should instill a shred of fear in law-abiding citizens. If Utah politicians want to gin up their constituents into active resentment of their federal government to boost the kind of states rights defiance that lost its currency way back at Appomattox Court House they should look elsewhere.