Dec 04 2015
WASHINGTON — Alabama Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) took to the senator floor Thursday to criticize President Barack Obama for trying to use this week’s San Bernardino terrorist attack to advance a political agenda that includes imposing more stringent gun control measures on American citizens.
“Following the tragic events of yesterday, President Obama – unsurprisingly – called to limit the Second Amendment rights of the American people through stricter gun control,” Shelby said. “This is yet another example of the President using tragic events to push his political agenda.”
Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to insert gun control into a budget measure on Thursday, including a proposal that would have prevented individuals on the government’s “no fly” list from purchasing weapons, and a second measure that would have imposed background checks for guns sold outside of licensed gun dealers.
“Infringing on the rights of law-abiding citizens to keep and bear arms is not the answer to curbing violent crime in America,” Shelby said prior to voting against the proposals. “Restrictive gun control measures only prevent law-abiding citizens from protecting themselves because criminals, by definition, refuse to follow the law.”
Shelby’s remarks then shifted to the President’s recent decision to seize “militaristic looking” equipment from law enforcement agencies in Alabama and around the country.
The Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office recently received two unarmed, tracked armored vehicles under Congress’s “1033” program. The program, which has been around for a couple of decades, allows for the transfer of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies. According to the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, “over 8,000 federal and state law enforcement agencies from all 50 states and the U.S. territories participate in the program,” including many in Alabama.
That is, until the President signed an executive order rolling back the program in the wake of the race riots in Ferguson and Baltimore. As a result, all vehicles were seized from local law enforcement agencies.
“We’ve seen how militarized gear can sometimes give people the feeling like there’s an occupying force — as opposed to a force that’s part of the community that’s protecting them and serving them,” said President Obama, before adding that the equipment “can alienate and intimidate residents and make them feel scared.”
Shelby wrote a letter to President Obama last week blasting him for being anti-police and urged him to reverse his “dangerous” executive order.
On Thursday, Shelby doubled down on the issue by accusing the President of targeting law enforcement agencies and law-abiding citizens, instead of focusing his efforts on stopping criminals and terrorists.
“During this time of increased uncertainty at home and abroad, the American people are looking to us for certainty that we will do everything in our power to keep them safe,” he said. “Unfortunately, President Obama has once again chosen to attack and weaken local law enforcement and law-abiding citizens instead of focusing on fighting against criminals and radical Islamic terrorists.
“Let me be clear,” Shelby concluded. “The President’s calls to increase gun control and remove equipment that local law enforcement uses to keep us safe only undermines the safety and security of American citizens… We simply cannot – and must not – continue to let this Administration infringe upon our constitutional rights and put law-abiding Americans in harm’s way.”