It’s not surprising that, after the first responders, the first response to the horrific attack that killed 50 or more people at gay nightclub Pulse in Orlando was a sometimes vicious debate.
The instant anger to President Barack Obama’s statement about the attack reflects a deep and growing distrust over how this administration responds to the threat of global terrorism.
This POTUS never fails to move the bar for leadership lower: "Obama uses Orlando attack to call for gun control" https://t.co/tYW3SADf7g
— Dan Bongino (@dbongino) June 12, 2016
Obama calls for gun control, but refuses to mention Islamic terrorism https://t.co/x4nGX7MBia
— Mark R. Levin (@marklevinshow) June 12, 2016
"The shooter was apparently armed with a handgun and a powerful assault rifle. This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school, or in a house of worship, or a movie theater, or in a nightclub. And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be."
That strikes of opportunism: using an act of terror to press a political agenda. There are many effective and important counterterrorism measures, but gun control isn’t one. Restricting Americans’ access to firearms has never been on the list of any responsible counterterrorism agenda. It was not, for example, mentioned in the 9/11 commission report (which was tasked to look at all terrorists attack on the United States, not just the Sept. 11 attacks). Gun control was not mentioned in the report for good reason: It is not a efficacious responsible measure.
Even after the terrible assault in Mumbai, India, which included the use of armed assaults by transnational terrorist group, restricting Americans’ access to firearms still made no sense. There are far better ways to protect Americans from armed terrorist assaults.
Obama may believe he has a case to make for pressing for more gun control—but there could not be a more inappropriate time to hijack the news to press his policies.
Even outside of Obama’s tasteless attempt to use the tragic killings to push something as ineffective to battling terrorism as gun control, there are many reasons why average Americans question this administration’s commitment and capacity to fight global terrorism.
This administration has never acknowledged its failures in battling the global Islamist insurgency. In 2010, Obama picked a bad strategy—one that downplayed the threat and created opportunities for a resurgence in global terrorism. The global threat today is far more grave than when he took office.
What has caused this loss of trust in the White House is its maddening insistence that it has made all the right moves, despite the resurgence in terrorism. That has cut at the president’s legitimacy
Finally, there is real evidence to suggest that this White House has put counterterrorism and homeland security behind other priorities. Consider, for example, the amount of energy and resources that the Department of Homeland Security has been forced to dedicate to the president’s amnesty and immigration agenda—time and effort that clearly took away from other missions.
Americans are also concerned about how the administration has handled the intelligence community due to reports of the administration suppressing disagreeable intelligence and hamstringing effective (and perfectly legal) programs.
The White House has a trust deficit on battling terrorism. That’s why, these days attacks don’t pull us together in a unified response to evil. Instead we start with mistrust, hate, prejudice, and fear. That’s an understandably human response from a people who are poorly led.
James Jay Carafano, a leading expert in national security and foreign policy challenges, is The Heritage Foundation’s vice president for foreign and defense policy studies, E. W. Richardson fellow, and director of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.
Editor's Note: This piece was originally published by The Daily Signal.