2013-01-17 07:02:17 - WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 16, 2013): A new ad by the NRA noting that Obama’s children are protected by armed guards at school is being widely misreported, with many in the media saying that the children are only protected because he is the president, and that the protection is provided by the Secret Service by law.
But the ad actually shows at least three "elite" parents whose children attend Sidwell school, where their kids and other students are apparently protected by armed guards provided by the school, not because they are entitled to additional protection because of any official status.
For example, David Gregory, the host of Meet the Press and not a government official, and who is clearly shown in the video, has children at Sidwell who are reportedly protected by a security force of almost a dozen armed individuals – none of which are members of the Secret Service – and all of whom presumably would provide the same protection to the children even if the President's progeny didn't attend. Similarly, the grandchildren of Joe Biden attend the same school, and receive the same protection even though they are not part of the Vice President's immediate family.
Two other individuals shown in the ad and labeled as “elitist hypocrites” are Senator Diane Feinstein and NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg,
both of whom – like Obama, Biden, and Gregory – have spoken out in favor of more gun controls.
The ad apparently labels them “elitist hypocrites,” because Feinstein has admitted that she carried a concealed weapon, and Bloomberg because he enjoys the protection of armed NYC police officers.
Although all students attending Sidwell, including many who are not the offspring of "elites," receive armed protection, it is being widely suggested that Obama's children receive it only because of his status as president. For example, MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell said: “Is it over the line for the NRA to put up a Web video addressing the issue of the president’s children having Secret Service protection? … Children of presidents have been off-limits for decades.”
Similarly, Huffington Post said: "First of all, I don't imagine that Obama's opinion of his kids factors into their receiving Secret Service protection. . . . But the reason they receive protection is because there simply happen to be more people in the world who want to kidnap and/or murder President Obama's children than there are people who want to kidnap and/or murder everybody else's children."
While many may argue whether it’s appropriate to provide armed protection for children of celebrities, and others who may be at increased risk because of their parent’s identity, and not for the great majority of children, it’s not fair to gloss over the issue by pretending that it doesn’t occur, that only Obama’s children were mentioned in the ad, and that they receive armed protection only from the Secret Service, suggests public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who does not necessarily endorse the ad, the NRA, or any of its positions.
Let’s not hide the fact that some children do get extra protection because of the status of their parents. Rather, let’s argue about whether other children should be entitled to the same protection, and whether that’s an appropriate response to the issue of gun violence, argues Banzhaf.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
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