Friday, January 8, 2016
President's Gun Control Effort Appreciated
Posted: Friday, January 8, 2016 12:00 am
It took a long time, but President Obama has finally taken concrete steps to battle the gun violence issue. And now he will be severely chastised by all sides of the argument.
Unable to get Congress to seriously consider any type of legislation including even the slightest bit of gun control, the president issued an executive order this week. It basically attempted to close the gun show loophole and toughen registration requirements in order to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them.
Those on the right will say this is merely the next step in his plan to go door-to-door and collect all the legal guns in this country. Those on the left will complain his actions don't go far enough and won't truly solve the problem. And the debate will go on as it has for decades now.
Congratulations to President Obama for stepping up and taking action, even if it did take him seven years. Only the most unreasonable and irrational among us can really object to what he has put forth. Even a lobbyist for the NRA made light of the order, essentially saying "This is all you came up with?"
Proper registration is essential if we are to be serious about reducing gun violence. It is almost universally agreed that mentally unstable people should not have access to guns. Requiring mandatory federal background checks and not allowing them to purchase weapons at local gun shows is a simple and necessary concept.
But many are wondering - why now? Why has it taken so long to get to even this point? After Columbine and Sandy Hook and all the other terrible gun disasters, why is it even this small step is only happening at this point in time?
The answer is - politics. Or more correctly, political reality.
With so many battles to fight, including just keeping the government open and operating year-to-year, President Obama has not been able to afford to take a step like this in the past. It would have cost him too much political capital for too little gain.
This might sound callous, but it truly does reflect the situation in Washington. In the current political climate, you have to choose your battles. With Congress blaming Obama for everything, including the weather, he simply did not have the clout necessary to issue such an order earlier. With both the House and Senate controlled by the opposition party for the vast majority of time, it would have been foolish.
He did try to get legislation passed after Sandy Hook, but the NRA did a masterful job of public relations and made it impossible. With the legislative route off the table, he knew issuing an executive order was the "nuclear option."
So he waited.
Now he has one year left in office. Most of his political battles, including budget wars, are behind him. What is left is 12 months where he can solidify his mark on the country and try and shape his legacy. And that's what he is doing.
He doesn't want to just be known as the first African-American president. He has already guided the nation through one of the worst economic disasters in its history and led us back toward recovery. He has reduced unemployment, seen the stock market rocket to new highs before recent problems, and perhaps most importantly, provided health care to millions who desperately needed it.
Ever the smart politician and leader, President Obama waited until his actions on guns could actually be sustained and meaningful. There is no guarantee his efforts won't be quickly undone by Congress or the next president, but for now, it is the law.
And this citizen thanks him.
I don't believe proper gun registration is a conservative or liberal position. It is common sense. The fact it has been used to advance political and social goals of greedy candidates and special interests aside, it is something government needs to do.
President Obama's directive isn't the whole answer. It won't curb all gun violence. It is a beginning, not an end.
But let those who seek to bring us backwards from here do so at their own political peril.
Thank you, Mr. President.
Bill Gouveia is a local columnist and longtime local official. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @Billinsidelook.