He waved toward the assembled officers and local politicians and added, “We’ve got to get past some of the rhetoric that gets perpetuated, that breaks down trust, that’s so over the top that it just shuts down all discussion.”
In contrast to some of his earlier, more emotional remarks about the impact of gun violence, the president portrayed the debate as one of a principled difference that needs to be bridged.
If he really wants to rebuild trust he could take a step in that direction by dropping his phony stat about 40 percent of guns being obtained without a background check.
Nor does it bolster his credibility when he tells a room of California's One Percenters that the Newton shooting was done with a semi-automatic weapon and then "corrects" himself to make it an automatic:
I just came from Denver, where the issue of gun violence is something that has haunted families for way too long, and it is possible for us to create common-sense gun safety measures that respect the traditions of gun ownership in this country and hunters and sportsmen, but also make sure that we don’t have another 20 children in a classroom gunned down by a semiautomatic weapon -- by a fully automatic weapon in that case, sadly.
Nor, since we don't lack for constructive suggestions, is it helpful for him to impute evil intent to his opponents, as he when he damns the Republican party with faint praise:
I want to find some common-sense gun safety legislation that we can get done. And I do believe that there are well-meaning Republicans out there who care about their kids just as passionately as we do.
Uh huh. Some Republicans care about our kids but others just chortle maniacally when they read about mass shootings.
But let's give the President props for lightening a grim subject with a bit of comedy. We are back in Denver and he is extolling legislation to enhance background checks:
So this does work. And, by the way, if you’re selling a gun, wouldn’t you want to know who you’re selling it to? Wouldn’t you want to know? Wouldn’t you want in your conscience to know that the person you’re selling to isn’t going to commit a crime? (Applause.)
I bet they applauded! These background checks will predict future crime? I mean, I've read about these ubiquitous drones and seen Minority Report, so I guess the future is now!
Obama also delivered a lesson on the limits of the human imagination. Well, his, anyway:
How do you rebuild some trust? And I told the story about two conversations I had. The first conversation was when Michelle came back from doing some campaigning out in rural Iowa. And we were sitting at dinner, and she had been to like a big county, a lot of driving out there, a lot of farmland. And she said, if I was living out in a farm in Iowa, I'd probably want a gun, too. If somebody just drives up into your driveway and you're not home -- you don't know who these people are and you don't know how long it's going to take for the sheriffs to respond. I can see why you'd want some guns for protection.
Well thank heaven Michelle went to Iowa! I have not had that good fortune, yet I figured out the rural problem all by myself. Probably just dumb luck. Or reading the headlines.