Since our nation’s founding, all 44 of our presidents have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States. Most have understood that this means the entire Constitution, not just the parts they like. But today, President Obama believes a key provision of our Constitution – the Second Amendment – does not apply to him. He believes the relevance of the right to bear arms has somehow changed since our founding, and that it is no longer his duty to uphold or defend it.
This is not only a violation of his oath; it also represents a dangerous lack of judgment. If the relevance of the right to bear arms has changed in recent years, it has become more important rather than less. The evidence of this is all over the news. Recent mass shootings reveal two realities about our country today: first, that America has a violence problem that must be addressed on a cultural level, and second, that our people face an enemy in radical Islam that will stop at nothing to terrorize our way of life.
Neither of those two facts reveals a need to limit the gun rights of law-abiding citizens. On the contrary, statistics and common sense both point to the same conclusion: if you want to stop violence against innocent people, the answer is to make those innocent people tougher targets by empowering them to defend themselves. Stricter gun control laws will only disarm potential victims of mass violence, not the potential perpetrators. Criminals do not follow laws, as any dictionary will tell you.
Yet after every mass shooting, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama call for “comprehensive” or “universal” background checks. What they fail to mention is that none of the mass shootings during Obama’s tenure would have been stopped by these laws. For example, Colorado, the site of one recent mass shooting, expanded its background checks two years ago. Oregon did, too, well before the Umpqua Community College shooting in October. France also has a stringent background-check system, as does California, which experienced the recent attack by Islamic extremists.
While the existing laws failed to stop these shootings, these failures are nonetheless used to justify imposing similar laws on the rest of the country. And this is not the only way gun control advocates disregard the truth to advance their goals. President Obama recently made the ridiculous assertion that mass gun violence is unique to America. What he didn’t mention is that in 2015 alone, France has suffered more killings and injuries from public shootings than the U.S. has during Obama's entire presidency.
The facts are on the side of our Second Amendment, not its critics. Even President Obama cannot deny that we live in an increasingly dangerous world – one that looks nothing like it did when my generation was growing up. Today, terrorists inspired or funded by extremist groups like ISIS are plotting by day and by night to destroy us, and their preferred target is not the frontline of our military, it is the checkout line at a local mall or any other everyday civilian location.
If these attacks are thwarted 99 out of 100 times, it’s still not good enough. ISIS only needs to get lucky once to end dozens of innocent lives. This is why we need to take an "all of the above" approach to stopping them. We need a commander in chief who will do what it takes to destroy ISIS abroad and who will restore the intelligence programs that allow us to stop terrorists before they strike. But with our citizenry as the target of evil like never before, we must also protect our people’s right to protect themselves -- to serve as a last line of defense against an increasingly unpredictable enemy.
Unfortunately, President Obama takes a "none of the above" approach to keeping us safe. He fails to use American strength to protect our interests abroad, he fails to give our intelligence and law enforcement professionals the tools to protect our people at home, and he works diligently to strip the very people he has endangered of their own constitutional right to bear arms. America needs a president who takes his oath of office seriously, who understands the threats we face and who will target those threats rather than the rights of the people being threatened. I will be that president.
Marco Rubio, a Republican, is a United States senator from Florida and a 2016 candidate for president.