BY ADEYEMI OSHUNRINADE.
Surrounded by children, parents and victims of gun violence, President Barack Obama acted on the recommendations presented by the Vice President to end gun violence in the nation. Thanking Mr. Biden for his role on the task force that has worked relentlessly since it was initiated by the President, the President called for a universal background check, restoration of the assault weapon ban and a ban on high-capacity magazine with more than ten rounds of ammunition.
Earlier this week, the state of New York led the nation in fighting gun violence, when its lawmakers passed gun control laws that so far, has been hailed by many as a model for other states to emulate. In signing the 23 executive actions, Obama wants Congress to see the need and importance of saving lives of the nation’s children and the innocent, from those who seize on the current loopholes in gun laws to become a danger to the society.
The President acknowledges that We as people have unalienable rights, but with such rights are responsibilities and that Americans are “responsible for each other.” The President reiterated that these rights including those to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness have been denied to victims of shootings such as those killed at Virginia tech and victims of the recent Newtown massacre. The President called for the people to demand action from lawmakers to make moves that will lead to gun control and a step against gun violence, saying “the only way we can change is if American people demand it.”
Many believe the move by the President to sign the Biden task force recommendations will have a great impact in saving lives and bringing a dramatic change to the issue of gun violence. However, the President’s action is already facing opposition from some members of his own party and many in the Republican Party who believe that any strict gun control law would infringe on the Second Amendment and that by signing the executive actions, could make the President overstep his bounds.
So far the most controversial of the proposals is the one calling for a universal background check on all gun purchases. This is expected to extend to all gun shows and private sales, which till now has made it possible for some to buy guns without going through the necessary vetting. However, the new law is with “limited” exceptions, that would allow for “certain transfers” among family members and the like situations.
Senator Marco Rubio of Florida has since called the President’s action an attempt to infringe on American’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. According to him, the administration’s action does not focus on the real problem of keeping guns away from criminals and the mentally ill. “Nothing the President is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence,” he said.
Senate Majority leader Harry Reid, a gun owner himself, has said the majority of Americans want the right to be able to “carry guns.” He said people want lawmakers to be very “cautious” on what they do and that the Senate, will only be able to do what they think can get through the House, meaning the Senate leader himself, is yet to commit or promise any support for the administration’s gun control recommendations. The NRA on the other hand, has indicated it’s readiness to work with Congress to help protect children from gun violence. Though, it won’t support the President’s call for a universal background check, a proposal the organization believe would limit people’s right to bear arm.
Before signing the executive actions, President Obama drew attention to accusations that he seeks to violate people’s right to carry arms. He called such allegations untrue, saying gun right advocates and lobbyists seek to wage a campaign of intimidation and fear instead of working with his administration to bring change. “We can respect the Second Amendment while keeping an irresponsible law-breaking few from inflicting harm on a massive scale,” he said.
There is no doubt the Obama administration will face a fight in Congress to pass the recommendations put forward. What could make the situation difficult is the fact that some in the President’s party are yet to agree on the best way forward, giving the majority in the GOP, who oppose the task force recommendations enough leverage against the administration’s executive actions. Nonetheless, this may be the best opportunity to find a lasting solution. Public opinion has shifted overwhelmingly in favor of gun control and the President’s move so far, resonates with the majority who believe the killings should end. Those in Congress know they can’t back out from finding a solution but the problem is finding a middle ground to do so.
One thing is clear the reason for gun violence in America is that there are too many guns around. People are gun crazy and there is a cynical belief that you’re only secure when you have your cache of weapons lying around. Unless these guns are yanked off the streets and homes that have no need for them, another Sandy Hook is not far away. But this can only be achieved with a gun control law with teeth. The administration seems to be going in the right direction to curb gun violence. people must now wait and see if the other side, recognize how dire the situation is.
Dr. Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.
Categories: Gun Violence