President Obama has made gun control speeches before, but perhaps never this emotional. Obama broke into tears when he delivered his speech about the issue of gun control in America this Tuesday (Jan. 5, 2016), recounting the school shooting in Newtown, CT, that killed 26, and the more recent Charleston, SC, church shooting. He argued that the victims of those and other attacks had rights to safety and security that were violated, and laid out a plan to remedy America’s gun control illness.
Obama stated that he will be using Executive Action to implement a number of changes that will tighten gun control laws and make it more difficult to access guns. These include more comprehensive background checks for those purchasing guns, beefed-up security in the form of additional ATF and FBI agents, and better access to mental health services for those who may be in need of them. The Washington Post recorded a transcription of Obama’s gun control speech, in which the president promised he would find ways to reduce access to guns without violating the Second Amendment, which guarantees citizens the right to bear arms.
“…But I also believe we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment. I mean, think about it…We understand there are some constraints on our freedom in order to protect innocent people.”
In the speech, Obama also expressed his frustrations that Congress has consistently voted against the gun control legislation he is proposing. He pleaded with the American public to stop electing leaders that would vote against gun control. Obama also argued that these leaders support the freedom to carry guns only because they are seeking votes, so refusing to put them in office would stop them from taking anti-gun control stands.
In the past, Obama has taken a bi-partisan approach to gun control legislation, attempting to get both sides of the aisle to work together on an oftentimes divisive issue. Senator Ted Cruz of Texas ran a campaign demonizing the president for his ideas on gun control, claiming that the president wants to take guns away from people when in reality the law would simply tighten the control the government has over gun purchases.
The National Rifle Association, one of the biggest gun lobbies in the country, fired back at Obama for his comments about gun control, calling the President’s arguments “devoid of fact” via Twitter. The NRA also stated their opinion that Obama’s gun control measures will not have any effect on the public’s safety.
CNN mentions that President Obama was introduced by Mark Barden, whose son Daniel was killed in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. Barden and several other parents whose children were injured or killed in the shooting formed the organization known as the Sandy Hook Promise, which has been proactive in lobbying Congress for an answer to the gun control issue in America.
Obama stated that just the mere thought of the shooting in Sandy Hook made him mad, and added that violence of a similar scale happens in his hometown Chicago every day. In previous speeches on gun control, Obama has also noted that America is the only highly civilized country that experiences such widespread violence on a regular basis. During his speech, he also cited the shootings in the Navy Yard; Tuscon, AZ; and Fort Hood.
Overall, he has said that the violence in this country has become all too “normal.” Many oppose Obama’s gun control restrictions as well. These opponents have argued against gun control restrictions on several grounds, citing their right to bear arms according to the constitution. Opponents have also argued that gun control laws would do to guns what Prohibition did to alcohol, making it an illegal commodity that only criminals are able to possess.
[Image Via The U.S. Army, Wikimedia.org/Flickr.com]