As has been widely expected, President Barack Obama has unveiled a package of proposals aimed at helping to reduce gun violence. The plan, with a price tag of $500 million, includes presidential executive orders and measures that require congressional approval.
They include banning civilian ownership of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines, and introduction of universal background checks. Such measures must be enacted by lawmakers, who did so in 1994, but not in 2004 when the law expired. Now many of them are even further in bed with the National Rifle Association and even though a recent poll found that six in 10 Americans favor such a ban, it remains questionable whether it will happen.
Americans sick of the all too frequent sight of mass killings, such as the gunning down of 20 young children and six educators in Newtown, Conn., a month ago, and those whose communities are overrun with gun-toting criminals, must demand to be heard.
There is no rational reason for civilians to be armed with assault rifles and there should be no cause for concern over background checks among those who have no ulterior motives in owning firearms.
The president’s 23 executive orders include steps to help advance the cause of keeping guns from those who should not own them, as well as helping schools and communities increase their efforts to be safe.
Even more radical measures are required to deal with what is now undoubtedly a crisis of epidemic proportions.
There are those, for instance, who do not believe the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution really entrenches an individual’s right to to own guns. They point to countries such as Japan and Britain where firearms ownership is severely restricted and the instances of gun violence are rare.
But the reality is that such steps will not be acceptable to large numbers of Americans at this time in our history. So while the president’s call to action may seem tame, they are still the biggest package of gun legislation proposed in two decades. They are a start and they should be fully supported.