There was something nauseating about the way Barack Obama surrounded himself with children as he unveiled his gun control plans. It looked like emotional blackmail. “Look these innocent babes in the face and tell them guns are good” – that was the implicit message of this cynical, innocence-exploiting press conference, which brought to mind one of the late Wacko Jacko’s weird child-centred peace concerts more than it did a serious Lincoln-style presidential address. What Obama and his advisers appear to have overlooked is that it doesn’t matter one jot what children think of guns, or anything else for that matter: politics is an adult business, and should be shaped by adult arguments, not childish fears.
Obama’s anti-gun stunt was a see-through attempt to circumvent the democratic realm of grown-up debate and competing interests by laying down the trump card marked, “But what about the children?!” In the wake of the horrific Newtown school massacre, Obama received numerous letters from upset children, and he cynically decided to scan and publish them on the White House website and then invite the letter-writers to attend his big gun-control announcement. “I just wanted to tell you that I feel really sad”, says one of the kiddie letters. “Can we stop using GUNS? I am really scared of guns and criminals around the world.” This is probably the first time in history (and let’s hope it’s the last) that a 200-year-old constitution fought for tooth-and-catapult might be rewritten on the basis of what a precocious eight-year-old felt as she watched the evening news.