President Barack Obama has taken on the issue of gun control to the dismay of the NRA and other gun advocates. Obama cited the fact that the U.S. Congress has failed to take action on the proliferation of gun violence and its aftermath despite the rash of mass shootings and deaths in the country. President Obama has used his power of executive orders to confront some of the issues regarding guns and he has caused many politicians to say he is overreaching his authority as president.
This is an important moment for Obama as he takes on the powerful gun lobby that has stopped gun control legislation in Congress. The steps taken by the president are fairly minor steps but because of the volatile mood of the country, it is causing discussion. In a joint East Room appearance President Obama shared the stage with Vice President Joe Biden. His opening comments, according to White House insiders, differed widely from his teleprompter speech. The president spoke emotionally about the agony and anger he felt at the mass shooting of first graders and teachers at the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newton, Connecticut, in 2012. President Obama wiped tears from his eyes while describing the shooting and senseless slaughter of innocents. He also went down the list of mass shootings in the United States and the aftermath of grief that affected those involved. Obama revealed the shocking statistics that 30,000 Americans have their lives taken by gun violence. This violence includes accidents, domestic violence, gang violence and suicide.
“This does not happen in other advanced countries. We become numb to it and think this is normal. Instead of thinking about how to solve the problem, it has become the most polarized partisan debates,” said Obama. He also stated that it takes place on the streets of Chicago on a daily basis.
The United States Congress is infamously the plaything of gun lobbyist groups such as the National Rifle Association, who spend big money in election campaigns. Because of this financial clout, any meaningful gun control legislation has been blocked by many congressmen and senators. Quoting Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Obama stated “We need to feel the intense urgency of now” in dealing with gun violence. As such he outlined three measures that he will undertake after consultation with Vice President Biden and his team on the issue. President Obama laid out the following:
1- “Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a background check and be subject to criminal prosecution. “ This action would help close the loopholes at many gun shows that allow weapons to be purchased illegally. In some cases guns have been purchased by criminals hiding behind a corporate front. In addition he will take measures to make background checks more efficient
2- “Smart and effective enforcement of gun control laws on the books.
3- “Help more people suffering from mental illness”- President Obama noted that 2 in 3 gun deaths are from suicide..
According to the president, his goal is to bring both sides of the issue to the table in open discussions “Not to discuss the last mass shooting but to prevent the next one,”.he said. “The vast majority of Americans … care enough to come together and take common sense steps to save lives and protect our children. Until we have a Congress that is willing, there are actions I can take.”
These potential actions have gun advocates in an unreasonable uproar that Obama is infringing on the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. But the president, who taught constitutional law, addressed this argument by stating “This is not a slippery slope to mass confiscation. This is not a plot to take away everybody’s gun.”