“The only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”
Saying he respects America’s strong tradition of gun ownership but believes we can respect the Second Amendment while keeping a few harmful people from inflicting so much damage, President Obama today unveiled a sweeping new plan aimed at reducing what he calls the epidemic of gun violence in America.
The moves come after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, last month where a man with an assault rifle stormed Sandy Hook elementary and killed 20 children and six adults. Obama opened his speech by reading letters written to him from children asking him to take action.
The proposal was introduced after a month-long review process led by Vice President Joe Biden and is broken down into four areas: law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health. The most serious initiatives include the following key components:
- Ban assault weapons
- Ban high-capacity ammo clips (10-round limit on ammunition magazines and eliminating armor-piercing bullets)
- Background checks on all gun sales (universal background check for anyone buying a gun)
- More funds for mental health care (providing mental health services in schools)
- More support for school security (allocating more funds to hire more police officers)
President Obama says the plan contains common-sense measures that have the support of the majority of the American people. He says implementing the new proposals will be difficult but that we must do something to protect our communities and our children. “This will be difficult, there will be pundits and specialists warning of an all-out assault on liberty, not because that’s true but because they want higher ratings or revenue for themselves.”
Because these recommendations require congressional approval, the administration is supplementing its proposal with 23 executive actions that will be taken immediately, according to the White House.
Those actions include requiring federal agencies to hand over relevant data for a background check system; providing law enforcement officials, first responders and school officials with better training for active shooting situations; directing the Centers for Disease Control to research the causes and prevention of gun violence; and many more. The president is also nominating Byron Todd Jones, the acting director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, to take over the post permanently.
Obama ceremoniously signed the 23 executive actions as school children and the parents of some of the children killed at Sandy Hook Elementary looked on, but the harsh political reality is that congress has to come together to approve the big stuff. The cost of the package would be roughly $500 million, some of which could come from already-budgeted funds.
So now, as the plan falls to congress to approve, the political circus really begins.
The president urges Americans to ask their congressional leaders, “What’s more important? Doing whatever it takes to get an ‘A’ grade from the lobbies that fund their campaigns or giving parents peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?”
The gun-rights lobby has already signaled that it will try to block the administration’s effort. The National Rifle Association has already harshly criticized the Obama administration for overreach.
“It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems,” the NRA said after meeting with Biden last week. “We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.”
But Obama has said this most ambitious gun-control push in decades is what our generation will be remembered for and that if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, we’ve got an obligation to try.
“If parents, teachers, police officers, pastors, if hunters, sportsman, responsible gun owners, Americans of every background stand up and say enough, we’ve suffered too much to allow this to continue then change will come. That’s what it’s going to take.”
As a parent how do you feel about the Obama Administration’s plan?
You can also find Monica on her personal blog, The Girl Who.
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