President Barack Obama has been busy in 2016 so far. On Tuesday, January 5th, the president presented his strategy to aid in United States gun control, which will be focused on more stringent background check requirements of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System as well as increased enforcement of existing laws and gun control education for individual states as this sample essay will discuss.
The plan includes new restrictions on businesses which sell guns, and trusts, corporations, and legal entities who allow purchases of guns. In addition, the new strategy aims to increase federal-to-state communications concerning criminal history information, which will in turn increase the effectiveness of NICS processes.
Obama gets strict on guns
Obama’s plan also asked the Federal Bureau of Investigations to “overhaul the background check system to make it more efficient and accurate”; these changes will include a 50 percent increase in personnel, modernization for 24/7 background check processing; and faster notification when a prohibited person attempts a gun purchase. The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF) was asked to hire 200 more agents and investigators, establish an Internet Investigation Center, and dedicate $4 million to increase the effectiveness of the National Integrated Ballistics Information Network. The goal is to help enforce the laws already in place and increase tracking of illegal online firearm trafficking.
Obama’s plan further called for Loretta Lynch, the United States Attorney General, to encourage state and local work with U.S. attorneys in order to prevent domestic violence and keep offenders from purchasing firearms. The plan proposed a hefty investment in mental health care by increasing the behavioral health workforce and service capacity; the rules which prevent the reporting of “relevant information about people prohibited from possessing a gun for specific mental health reasons” will be removed by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) .
Various avenues of research into new gun technology to prevent accidental or unauthorized use – a “real-world strategy” — is to be ready in the next 90 days. Illegal gun trafficking will be a focus for state attorneys general, as well as violent offenders who are attempting to bypass the legal system and illegally purchase guns. In line with the removal of some mental health concerns information prevention laws, the HHS will be required to include mental health information from the Social Security Administration (SSA) about prohibited customers; all information regarding these persons must be reported to the NICS. Limited demographic and other necessary information about mental health prohibited customers will also be made available to the NICS.
What is Obama’s gun control plan?
The specifics of Obama’s gun control plan are stricter than past plans, and provide more government oversight of the gun selling industry, as well as the portion of the population which is affected by mental health issues such as instability or past history of violence.
The basic tenets of the plan are as follows:
- required background checks for all gun sales;
- removal of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act barriers enacted in order to increase information sharing about purchasers with mental health issues;
- implementation of state monetary incentives for information sharing about customers with criminal histories and prohibitions due to mental health issues;
- implementation of military-style assault weapons bans and a 10 round magazine limit;
- establishment of stricter penalties for “straw purchasers” who buy guns and then sell them to prohibited persons; passing of legislation closing “loopholes” in current laws;
- prevention of gun violence through increased education, legislation, and “active shooter” law enforcement official training; implementation of a national gun safety campaign and Community Oriented Policing Services hiring program (which will provide schools with more resource officers and counselors);
- increased mental health teacher training and treatment referrals (5,000 additional mental health professionals will be trained in the United States) (NCSL).
Who is in favor of Obama’s gun control plan?
The division line in the United States population concerning gun control is divided in much the same way as the political parties are divided over Obama’s other political plans. Gun control has always been a topic of much controversy in the United States, a country which holds its freedom up as an example for other countries on the planet. Gun laws can vary by states, but a mass shooting can happen almost anywhere. In general, many citizens and politicians who identify as democratic are in favor of Obama’s proposed and past gun control actions. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Bernie Sanders, both presidential hopefuls in the 2016 elections, in particular (Hensch). In an interview with Ellen DeGeneres, Clinton stated,
“I’ve spent a lot of time around families that have lost kids or loved ones to gun violence and there are just no words…I was so proud of the president the other day when he said, ‘Hey, we have to do something to stop all of this gun violence’. You send your first grader to school and you don’t expect to lose that child in a mass murder’” (as cited in Hensch).
Clinton’s interview followed the president’s emotional address about the losses of United States families to gun violence in the United States (CNN). Sanders stated,
“Obviously we need strong sensible gun control, and I will support it, but some people think it’s going to solve all of our problems, and it’s not” referring to the mental health issues of many shooters” (as cited in Taylor).
Another address about gun control, one of many during Obama’s presidency, came five days after the murder of nine people at an evening prayer service in South Carolina – in it he noted that he didn’t “foresee any real action being taken until the American public feels a sufficient sense of urgency and they say to themselves,
‘This is not normal; this is something that we can change, and we’re going to change it’” (as cited in LaFrance, 2015).
In fact, the American people do feel urgency around the issue; in particular parents, democrats and liberals, and predominantly black communities across the nation who have been persecuted by gun violence from law enforcement officers and others in a position of trust. Some of the organizations in the United States which support gun control on various levels are the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence; Everytown for Gun Safety; and Americans for Responsible Solutions, an organization founded in January of 2013 by Gabrielle Giffords and Mark Kelly (Colon).
Giffords was a surviving victim of a shooting tragedy in Tucson, Arizona, in January of 2011 as well as a congresswoman (Associated Press). Jared Loughner, the shooter, had a “deteriorating mental state before the shooting” which documents, psychological reports and media interviews with witnesses chronicled (Associated Press). Giffords has since become an outspoken supporter of gun control in the United States.
The families of victims of gun violence have long stood behind Obama’s reforms and proposed reforms, including the families of the Newtown elementary school massacre that occurred in December of 2014 (Pelley). Seven families, all part of Sandy Hook Promise (an organization which works for “change and remembrance” for the victims of gun violence) met at the Newtown town hall to discuss their loss during an interview with Scott Pelley of CBS News (Pelley).
One of the parents stated,
“This isn’t just about political parties. This isn’t just about careers. This is about people. And this is about making changes to save what’s important to remember the people you are doing this for” (as cited in Pelley).
Who is against Obama’s gun control plan?
Many Republican politicians have been and continue to be outspokenly opposed to Obama’s gun control actions and possible future actions, including resigned senator John Boehner (McAuliff). As expected, the National Rifle Association (NRA), which claims several prominent politicians among its vast membership ranks, was opposed to Obama’s gun control executive actions (Slattery). The NRA refused an invitation to discuss gun control and violence from President Obama, according to Slattery, and attempted to
“sabotage a town hall talkfest on the subject” on January 7th, 2016. Chris Cox, the NRA’s executive director, stated “The president is trying to create an illusion that he’s doing something to keep people safe. He needs to do that because…his policies have failed miserably” (as cited in Slattery).
In an article for Aljazeera, Beydoun (an assistant professor of law at the Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law in Miami, Florida) noted that
“In the US, guns are far more than weapons. They are ideological talismans, and…symbols of either individual liberty or systematic violence” (Beyoud).
Beyoud stated that the real divide in America is not over whether or not we are all allowed to openly carry guns, but the racial divide which prevents gun violence from affecting affluent white communities and forces communities of color to experience its fallout daily. Beyoud is indeed correct that there is a crisis of monumental proportions occurring in cities across the United States, and that gun violence is more prominent in communities of color for the most part (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).
Beyoud further indicated that rural areas in the United States are where the Second Amendment holds the most sway – he accused “Republican frontrunners” of “stoking xenophobic and Islamophobic fears” in the American population in order to promote their pro-gun agenda.
One of the most prominent arguments of gun control opposition is that guns
“actually make society safer, giving people the power of self-defense, and dissuading criminals from victimizing people who might be armed” (Pérez-Peña).
Volokh reported on ten civilians with legal weapons in the past ten years who stopped other people from being injured by shooters (2015). Among them are an Uber driver who shot and wounded Everardo Custodio as he “opened fire on a crowd of people” in Chicago, Illinois; Lee Silverman, a psychiatrist in a Philadelphia hospital who shot down a patient who shot him and a psychiatric caseworker; and Jeanne Asam (a former police officer) who shot Matthew Murray after he killed four people at a church of which both were members (Volokh).
In August of 2015, two men on a high-speed Thylas train going from Amsterdam to Paris tackled and disarmed a Moroccan national gunman named Ayoub El Khazzani, who boarded armed with an AK-47 and nine ammunition magazines, a Luger pistol with more ammunition, and a box cutter, according to Bernard Cazaneuve, French Interior Minister (Ellis, Karimi, Fantz, and Robertson).
The two men were Mark Moogalian, a French-American academic aged 51, and British passenger Chris Norman, both of whom received awards during a Élysée Palace ceremony hosted by French President François Hollande on at which they received Legion of Honor awards (Ellis, et al.). According to authorities,“a massacre might have occurred if not for the heroics of the men who attacked the suspect” on the train.
Moogalian was suspicious of El Khazzani after her entered the toilet with a briefcase and was in the toilet for a lengthy amount of time; when he came out, Moogalian noticed a weapon and attempted to remove it from El Khazzani (Ellis, et al.). He was shot in the neck by the gunman, but survived and is expected to make a full recovery; a man named Spencer Stone was also badly injured by the box cutter in the struggle, but helped put pressure on Moogalian’s neck wound in order to stop the bleeding (Ellis, et al.).
In the fight against violence and terrorism, the United States and the rest of the world may take different paths, but the present Obama administration has clearly put quite a bit of thought into the current conditions, causes, and possible solutions with which it might combat gun violence in the future. Despite inter-party disagreements, it is now clear that both parties want a resolution to the violence. Working together, all parties may help bring the levels of gun violence down in the United States.
Beydoun, Khaled A. “Why Obama’s Gun Control Efforts Will Fail.” Aljazeera. Aljazeera, 2016. Web. 11 January 2016.
CBS News. “Tucson Gunman Before the Rampage: ‘I’ll See You on National T.V.’” CBS News. CBS News, 2014. Web. 19 January 2016.
Collinson, Stephen. “Barack Obama’s Emotional Evolution on Gun Control.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2016. Web. 13 January 2016.
Colon, David. “Six Gun Control Groups Worth Your Time and Donations.” Brokelyn. Brokelyn, 2012. Web. 13 January 2016.
Ellis, Ralph, Faith Karimi, Ashley Fantz, and Nic Robertson. “Train Heroes ‘Gave us an Example of What is Possible,’ Says French President.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2015. Web. 19 January, 2016.
Hensch, Mark. “Clinton: I’m ‘So Proud’ of Obama on Gun Control.” The Hill. The Hill, 2016. Web. 11 January 2016.
Lafrance, Adrienne. “What Can Obama Do on His Own to Tighten Gun Control?” The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group, 2016. Web. 11 January 2016.
McAuliff, Michael. “John Boehner Gun Control.” The Huffington Post. The HuffingtonPost.com, Inc., 2013. Web. 13 January 2016.
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. “Stopping Gun Violence; Urging Strong Support for Sane & Sensible Gun Violence Prevention Laws.” NAACP. NAACP, 2016. Web. 13 January 2016.
National Conference of State Legislatures. “President Obama’s 2015 Executive Actions on Gun Control.” NCSL. National Conference of State Legislatures, 2016. Web. 11 January 2016.
Pelley, Scott. Interview with Sandy Hook Promise. CBS News. CBS Corporation, 2013. Web. 13 January 2016.
Pérez-Peña, Richard. “Gun Control Explained.” New York Times. The New York Times Company, 2015. Web. 19 January 2016.
Slattery, Denis. “NRA Pushes Against President Obama’s Gun Control Executive Action with Fox News Interview after CNN Town Hall Meeting.” Daily News. NYDailyNews.com, 2016. Web. 13 January 2016.
Taylor, Jessica. “Bernie Sanders Walks a Fine Line on Gun Control.” NPR. NPR, 2015. Web. 19 January 2016.
Volokh, Eugene. “Do Citizens (Not Police Officers) with Guns Ever Stop Mass Shootings?” The Washington Post. The Washington Post, 2015. 19 January 2016.