Hey, this question wouldn’t surprise me if it were asked by an American reporter. Still it was great just to see the President have to defend the second amendment. You have to wonder though if he was thinking the same thing?
This post actually has two parts. The first, video and transcript of the question and the President’s answer. The President hesitatingly struggles through the defense but quickly adds that we need to do more to stop the shipment of guns across the border. You’ll see why I draw attention to that after the video.
Q Taking advantage of the moment and continuing the subject matter, I’m not going to ask many questions, but I will be very concrete. First, directly for President Obama, the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution allows American citizens to carry weapons and this principle is defended. However, President Calderón has said that this law in Congress — this could actually go against U.S. agents, and this has happened. So, President Obama, in Mexico we have the veto, the power of veto. I don’t know how far you have the ability to veto that law that has been approved. And if you have that responsibility, why don’t you do so, sir? How long are we going to allow Mexicans to be murdered — and not just Mexicans, but now Americans, as well?
Now, with respect to the Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano has sent a bill or spoken to Congress with respect to the possibility of allowing U.S. agents to bear arms in our country — President Calderón has already answered this to a certain extent, but he’s also said that he will be searching for mechanisms. What types of mechanisms can be found so as to keep them safe? And the people who murdered Zapata — well, in Mexican terms — who was the alleged murderer of Zapata, the extradition of this man, of this alleged perpetrator has been requested. Madam Napolitano has mentioned this. President Calderón, how far are you going to go in those efforts? And there you would have my questions.
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, the Second Amendment in this country is part of our Constitution and the President of the United States is bound by our Constitution. So I believe in the Second Amendment. It does provide for Americans the right to bear arms for their protection, for their safety, for hunting, for a wide range of uses. That does not mean that we cannot constrain gunrunners from shipping guns into Mexico. And so we believe that we can shape an enforcement strategy that slows the flow of guns into Mexico, while at the same time preserving our Constitution.
You asked whether I have veto power over a particular bill. I think that the challenge that we have right now is not a particular bill, but rather that we are trying to work our way through more effective enforcement mechanisms to prevent straw purchasers from buying caches of weapons, transporting them across the border.
Clearly the reporter doesn’t understand the constitution and by the President’s answer I am not sure he understands the second amendment is not just a “bill” he can’t veto, but the closing line is interesting to in that his own agents have been complicit in transporting weapons across the border in a failed sting. Weapons that ended up being used in the death of Agent Zapata, the very officer who is the subject of the question.
A federal operation that allowed weapons from the U.S. to pass into the hands of suspected gun smugglers so they could be traced to the higher echelons of Mexican drug cartels has lost track of hundreds of firearms, many of which have been linked to crimes, including the fatal shooting of a Border Patrol agent in December.
The investigation, known as Operation Fast and Furious, was conducted even though U.S. authorities suspected that some of the weapons might be used in crimes, according to a variety of federal agents who voiced anguished objections to the operation.
Many of the weapons have spread across the most violence-torn states in Mexico, with at least 195 linked to some form of crime or law enforcement action, according to documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity and The Times.
The ATF says it will review the practice:
The ATF said agents took every possible precaution to assure that guns were recovered before crossing into Mexico.
Scot L. Thomasson, the ATF’s public affairs chief in Washington, said the Fast and Furious strategy is still under evaluation.
“It’s always a good business practice to review any new strategy six or eight months after you’ve initiated it, to make sure it’s working, that it’s having the desired effect, and then make adjustments as you see fit to ensure it’s successful,” he said.
Make no mistake, ATF is not responsible for Agent Jaime Zapata’s death. The cartel is. They would have gotten guns from someone or some other country. Some statistical breakdown. Of the 1765 guns sold in the sting, 195 were reovered in Mexico and even those we’re not sure if they ended up there because doors were opened to facilitate the sting.
When the President says “we are trying to work our way through more effective enforcement mechanisms to prevent straw purchasers from buying caches of weapons, transporting them across the border”, my guess is this is not an effective way, nor does it show that guns from the US that are the bulk of the weapons being used in the crime.
At least the President defended the second amendment. But he made no mention of this little fact, that he must have aware of.