President Obama held a town hall meeting on gun violence Thursday, and the event featured a surprising amount of substantive discussion on gun laws. Obama addressed several legitimate criticisms of his proposed gun policies, and one patently absurd criticism of his proposals: The allegation that he’s coming in to take away everybody’s guns. Obama called out gun control conspiracy theorists for what they are on Thursday, and made no attempt to hide his incredulity at their claims.
"The way [gun control] is described is that we are trying to take away everybody's guns," Obama said early on. Later, he referred to "the notion of a conspiracy out there [that] gets wrapped up in concerns about the federal government."
At that point, host Anderson Cooper interjected and asked Obama if it was really legitimate to refer to use the word "conspiracy." The president, referring to Anderson Cooper by his last name, answered that yes, it was perfectly legitimate.
“I’m sorry, Cooper. Yes, it is fair to call this a conspiracy," Obama said. "What are you saying? Are you suggesting that the notion that we are creating a plot to take everybody’s guns away so that we can impose martial law is a conspiracy? Yes, I would hope that you would agree with that. Is that controversial? Except on certain websites across the country?”
The president was visibly animated when he made these remarks, which garnered applause and laughter from the audience. It was almost as if he'd wanted to say something like this since 2008, when the NRA first began stoking fears that he would ban shotguns and rifles. Obama went on to explain that this fear-mongering, at the end of the day, is merely a distraction that the gun lobby uses to prevent any form of gun control from passing.
"It is a false notion that I believe has circulated," Obama said, "either for political reasons or commercial reasons, in order to prevent a coming together among people of good will to develop common sense rules that will make us safer while preserving the Second Amendment."
When Cooper pressed him on this by pointing out that a lot of Americans have "a fundamental distrust" of Obama and his intentions, the president offered evidence that this distrust is unfounded.
"I mean, look, I'm only gonna be here for another year," Obama said, stifling a grin. "When would I have started on this enterprise?"
Ultimately, that argument alone is sufficient enough to debunk these conspiracy theories. Obama has been president for seven years, and the great gun confiscation still has not yet begun. It's true that many Americans have a "gut feeling" that Obama wants to confiscate their guns, but at some point, we have to acknowledge that these gut feelings aren't rooted in evidence, facts, or objective reality.