After what happened in Newtown Connecticut, counties across the states are passing resolutions supporting the banning of assault weapons and the sale of large-capacity magazines to private citizens.
President Obama's moving speech to unveil his gun control plan opens up the possibility of healthy policies on restraining the devastating capacity of dangerous individuals.
In his speech, Obama went beyond what many people expected. The confident call to reinstate the assault weapons ban shows the president is ready to speak his mind following a rash of mass-shootings across the country.
Obama was pointing out the broad public support for more gun control, showing that the picture painted by the powerful gun lobbies is not representative of the majority of views. He emphasized the human costs of gun violence by describing details of the victims’ lives, especially the children of Sandy Hook, and appealing to a universal concern for children's safety.
In his speech at the White House, President Obama detailed the three measures required of Congress: Legislation to require a universal background check on all gun buyers; "Help, rather than hinder law enforcement," by getting tough on people who buy guns to sell to criminals; and restore the ban on military-style assault weapons and instate a 10-round limit for ammunition magazines. "Weapons designed for the theater of war have no place in a movie theater," he said.
With the plan on the table, the battle begins. The National Rifle Association immediately promised "the fight of the century." Obama called on the U.S. public to support the measures and begin pressure on Congressional representatives, emphasizing districts heavily influenced by gun lobbyists and organizations.
The president knows what he's up against now. He laid it out in the speech "Ask (your representatives) to do this and if they say no, ask them why not..." and added pointedly, "What's more important? Getting an A grade from the gun lobby that helps fund their campaigns or giving parents some peace of mind when they drop their child off for first grade?"
The National Rifle Association immediately issued an ad calling Obama a "hypocrite" for accepting armed guards for his daughters, implying that the best way to keep children safe is to arm adults around them.
Obama anticipated the criticisms and warned viewers that opponents would attack his plan on the grounds of violations of civil liberties. He restated his support for the Second Amendment.
Just before signing the actions, Obama noted that mass shootings enabled in part by a lack of regulation, are not only a tragedy but a violation of basic human rights. The right to assemble peacefully -for those shot in the theaters-, the right to freedom of worship -for the Sikhs in Wisconsin-and basic rights to life and happiness are violated by violence.
A rights framework that recognizes and moves beyond the human tragedy, is a good model for understanding violence, because it lends a greater sense of urgency to the issue. The right to live without violence places responsibility on the government.
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