Calling President Barack Obama an “elitist hypocrite” for his daughters Malia and Sasha’s armed Secret Service protection, the National Rifle Association lashed out at the president’s new gun control proposals. “Why is [Obama] skeptical about putting armed security guards in schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?” asked a new NRA ad. “I will put everything I’ve got into this,” said Obama, committing himself to responsible gun control legislation. Speaking at the White House to families of the 20 child-victims murdered Dec. 14 at Newtown Conn.’s Sandy Hook Elementary School, the president pledged to reduce the chances of future gun violence. Obama faces daunting challenges not only weighting out constructive proposals but dealing with hostile Second Amendment advocates in Congress, unwilling to admit that something urgent needs to be done.
Above all else, Obama said the American public would have to buy into the need for more gun control. Whether backed or not by the NRA, new gun control legislation needs the support of the American people. “While there is no law, or set of laws, that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every tragedy, every act of evil, if there’s eve on thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try,” said Obama. Urging a limit on the manufacture of assault weapons and confining magazines to only 10 rounds, Obama offered some concrete suggestions. Limiting the number of bullets was borrowed from the now expired 1994 Assault Weapons Ban. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reacted skeptically, saying the House would evaluate the president’s proposals.
When NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre urged Dec. 21 putting armed police at every school in the country, the proposal sank like a led balloon. With the government already running trillion-dollar-plus deficits, there’s no money to implement LaPierre’s proposal. Urging all school teachers to carry firearms also bombed. “Nothing the president is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fl.), a possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate. Instead of offering helpful suggestions, Rubio opted for political grandstanding. After watching Sandy Hook and numerous other handgun or assault rifle massacres, it’s high time for new gun control legislation.
NRA proposals are too steeped in defending the Second Amendment rather than protecting victims of gun violence. Maintaining the status quo does nothing to stop ballistic killers from getting their hands of firearms. Sand Hook’s assailant Adam Lanza used his mother’s arsenal to murder her, 20 grade-school children and eight adults, including himself. “This will not happen unless the American people demand it. If parents and teachers, police officers and pastors, if hunters and sportsman, if responsible gun owners, 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,” said Barack, urging Congress to act. So far, Republicans have backed the NRA, too busy protecting the Second Amendment to offer any constructive suggestions.
Obama wants federal agencies to give more information on routine Department of Justice background checks. He also wants more funding for Bethesda, Md.-based Centers of Disease Control to study more thoroughly gun violence. Focusing on the linkage between Hollywood or video game violence hasn’t proved fruitful. Researchers need to answer more complicated questions about the neurobehavior of recent ballistic killers like 20-year-old Adam Lanza, 22-year-old Jared Lee Loughner who killed six and shot Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-Ariz.) through the brain Jan. 8, 2011 in Tuscon, Ariz., or 25-year-old James Eagan Holmes who killed 12 July 20, 2012 at a Aurora, Co. multiplex theater. All three shared severe mental illness in common and easy accessibility of firearms. Whether obtained legally or borrowed from relatives, the guns produced the same lethal outcome.
Government can only do so much to curb potential ballistic episodes of mentally deranged killers. Tougher gun laws can make it more difficult for ballistic killers to get their hands of dangerous firearms. NRA officials and Second Amendment advocates are correct that gun laws won’t prevent ballistic killers from lashing out. If gun owners are made responsible for keeping registered weapons out of the hands of unauthorized users, then Lanza’s episode would not have happened so easily. Ballistic killers like 23-year-old Virginia Tech Korean-born Seung–Hui Cho who killed 32 April 16, 2007 including himself, had legally registered guns. What all ballistic killers have in common is their severe mental illness and accessibility to firearms. Any new gun legislation must aim to keep guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. More complete background checks would be a good first start.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.