When President Barack Obama proposed a comprehensive package on gun-control efforts that would work to ban assault rifles, address mental health, and make background checks mandatory, he knew he would be faced with some opposition.
"There’s no question this will be difficult," the President said. "There will be pundits, politicians, and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty – not because it’s true, but to gin up fear, or higher ratings or more revenue for themselves. And privately, they’ll do everything in their power to block any commonsense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever."
True to his word, several lawmakers have come out in the hours after the proposal to say that these efforts, matched with the 23 executive actions the President plans to implement, would not have prevented shootings like the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School from happening.
They accused the President of glossing over potential factors like the entertainment industry and the country's mental health system, making clear that the legislative proposals could face an uphill climb.
"Nothing the President is proposing would have stopped the massacre at Sandy Hook. President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence," Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said. "Rolling back responsible citizens' rights is not the proper response to tragedies committed by criminals and the mentally ill."
But what Republicans are forgetting are the more than 800 people that have been killed by guns since the Dec. 14 massacre. None of them have been killed in mass school shootings.
This proposal is about more than stopping massacres in the classroom. It's about stopping gun violence period. In suburbia. In inner cities. In schools. And in malls. But will these proposals actually help us, or will they fall to the wayside like so many gun reform bills have?
Will these measures cut down gun violence? Let's put them to the test.
Universal Background Checks:
According to the Washington Post, only licensed gun dealers have to run background checks on buyers. But gun purchases that are private sales do not have that same requirement; in fact, 80 percent of guns used in crimes are obtained in this second market. Infiltrating that market will certainly reform gun sales, and hopefully cut down on the amount bought and who buys them.
Assault Weapons Ban:
We've had a few of these come and go as laws, notably between 1994 and 2004. Now that the ban has expired, Obama's proposal calls for the ban to be strengthened and reinstated. But do these bans really work? According to the Washington Post, a University of Pennsylvania study found that the previous ban "led to no discernible reduction in the lethality and injuriousness of gun violence." Hmmm.
Verdict: Maybe (if the ban is strengthened, like Obama is urging, there is a chance this measure will work better than the one before it).
Making Schools Safer:
Obama's proposal rivals the National Rifle Association's call for armed guards in school with a few other options: hiring more resource officers and counselors, devising comprehensive emergency plans, tackling bullying, drug abuse, and problem behaviors to make the school climate safer. We're all for non-violent approaches for combating guns. Violence just breeds more violence. Case in point; if Obama tackles bullying, among other things, to create a better school climate, we might see a decline in shootings in schools. Remember Taft High School last week (the gunman claimed that he was bullied).
Improving Mental Health Services:
The President gave the green light to the Centers on Disease Control (CDC) to go forward on research to find the "causes and prevention of gun violence." That includes exploring mental health as a catalyst in gun shootings. He also suggested that all students and young adults get treatment for mental health issues. Currently, less than half of students with mental illnesses get diagnosed or treated. Nipping mental illnesses in the bud may prevent mass shootings, like the one at Newtown, Conn. But will they do much for street crime?
Verdict: Maybe (This can surely help in schools, but Obama has other measures in place to help crime that is not limited to the classroom.)
What do you think?
Obama's overall proposal will hopefully segue us into a brighter, safer America. We're hopeful about the future and happy that the plan, the most comprehensive in decades regarding gun reform, has made it this far. But it's time to see if the words from today will save lives.
Still skeptical that Obama's new proposal can battle gun violence effectively? Check out the new measures and the 23 executive orders to make a decision yourself.