After the horrible tragedies in Newtown, Connecticut last month, a barrage of politically driven banter became the commonplace dialogue on gun control in America. One might remember a very emotional President Obama calling for his allies and others in Congress to step up and pass real lasting legislation to prevent another massacre of Newtown’s magnitude. That was almost exactly a month ago. And since then, we’ve been wrapped up in New Year’s celebrations and the like. We even averted a fiscal crisis of epic proportions. Newtown, for many, came and went like a wrinkle in jeans. It struck a chord that reverberated so deeply and then, just like that, we moved on.
Only we didn’t. It still burns when we think about it. And, it is still extremely painful when conjured up in our minds. So, President Obama did something about it. He had given clues about his intentions on gun control. And, at the mere discussion of potential gun restrictions, every gun enthusiast in the country clenched their guns with baited breath. But Mr.Obama soldiered ahead anyway. In a very somber and serious press conference Wednesday, President Obama and Vice President Biden stood before an audience of the normal Washington D.C. press fare. It also included some of the family members who lost loved ones in the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School. But, he also stood before four children who wrote him personal letters about Newtown. In the letters, they explained that they were fearful for their own families and saddened for the parents of the deceased. The four elementary school children implored the President to take action to prevent mass shootings in the future. And, in his speech, he did his best to address them.
The President made some very disturbing points in reference to gun violence. He explained that in the month since the Newtown tragedy, at least 900 Americans have been killed by guns. He noted that there is no silver bullet strategy for gun violence. But, he said that he would do his part. He explained that he would be taking 23 Executive steps but that his actions were not enough to thwart gun violence at the level needed.
A few of his main points were exactly what congressional Democrats have noted and remain adamant about passing but have yet to move forward on.
1. Universal background checks
2. Congress should restore a ban on military assault weapons and instate a 10 round magazine limit
3. Stricter punishment for and enforcement of laws prohibiting gun proliferation for illicit purposes
President Obama asserted that we, in this country, just don’t do enough to enforce responsible gun ownership. To add, he said that researchers are not looking into the linkages between violent video games or movies and a violent culture. But, he explained that this lack of knowledge does more harm than good.
“We don’t benefit from ignorance. We don’t benefit from not knowing the science of this epidemic of violence.”
He underscored an ongoing effort to gain insight into the mental and psycho-social environments contributing to these gun massacres. And, he called on his colleagues to support those efforts. But, his tone was a bit different with his constituents. In speaking to the American public, it was clear that President Obama had a lot to say to his Republican naysayers and the NRA.
“This time must be different. This time we must do something to protect our communities and our kids…the only way we can change is if the American people demand it…it can’t just be the usual suspects. We have to examine ourselves and our hearts and ask ourselves what is important…if Americans of every background stand up and say enough! We’ve suffered too much pain and care too much about our children to allow this to continue, then change will come. That’s what its going to take.”
It is likely that his concerns have stemmed from the lackluster performance Congress has had on gun control since the expiration of the Federal Assault Weapons Ban in 2004. And, the tragedies at Virginia Tech, Aurora, CO, and Newtown, CT only reiterate that gun policy is a long overdue issue with devastating consequences. So, what was the response from President Obama’s opponents?
In anticipation of President Obama’s speech, the NRA released an ad focusing on Sasha and Malia rather than on the issues.
So, it is safe to say that Newtown will mean little to gun lobbies and other gun advocates. Rather than have a serious debate about gun violence, they resort to criticizing the President’s family. What exactly does the security at a private school in Washington D.C. which instructs the children of Democratic and Republican political actors have to do with this conversation? And, why even include Sasha and Malia in the dialogue knowing that it strikes a chord with those impacted personally by Newtown? The ad is unscrupulous and laden with messaging about party, class, and derision. But, it only proves that the NRA’s sole objective is more guns no matter whose hands they end up in.
Hopefully, the words of those four children begging their President to keep them safe will soften the hearts of those willing to watch more tragedies occur. But, if the 26 lives at Newtown didn’t do it or the 12 at Aurora or the 32 at Virginia Tech or the 24 at Columbine High School or the 900 this past month or the countless hundreds of thousands over the years, then what will?
See here to read President Obama’s Full Plan.
View the full video below.