As President Obama enters his final year of presidency, he faces a pressing issue that has long haunted him in office: guns. During his presidency, there has been a massive rise in domestic gun violence across the country. Guns have always been part of American culture, from the discussion about the right to bear arms to the vast shooting ranges all over the country. Shortly into the year, Texas passed an open carry gun law that allowed certain firearms to be displayed as long as the firearm was at the waist and the owner has a license. It is the 45th state to have such a law. Gun sales have consistently gone up and not diminished. 2015 was no exception.
However, the reason the issue of guns is so divisive is that everyone in America is living a different life. Some have spent all their lives with guns while others have yet to have any experience with a gun.
On January 4th, 2016, President Obama issued an executive action to reinforce already existing gun laws. In an emotional speech, he outlined several key points to take some steps to reduce gun violence.
First, to reduce gun violence, the President argues that background checks should be in place. This reinforcement is to prevent those who sell firearms online or even just once in person, legal or illegal, from giving a firearm to the wrong hands. Many of the gun violence attacks have been a result of illegal possession, despite the firearm or licensed owner’s legality. In addition, President Obama proposes to make communities safer. With that, he proposes to increase mental health treatment (including reporting back to the background check system) and improve gun technology.
Opponents of the proposal have argued that because the President wants to prevent mass shootings (or at least slow the rate of them), he is attempting to take away the guns and is making it harder for anybody to purchase a firearm. When asked this question in CNN’s Town Hall Guns In America debate, the President responded “Look, crime is always going to be with us. So, I think it’s really important for us not to suggest that if we can’t solve every crime, we shouldn’t try to solve any crimes.”
Others, who may or may not have fully support the action have suggested other alternatives. In the town hall debate, Father Michael Pfleger suggested to “title guns just like cars.” Obama has also noted that smart gun technology could lessen gun violence rates and create a market at the same time.
As of now, the debate still stands. Since the broadcast, little has happened in terms of national consensus of guns, other than the Oregon occupancy. President Barack Obama closed the town hall debate with an insistent tone to America as a whole: “Some of the proposals that I’m making… are not as effective as others. But at least let’s figure it out. Let’s try some things. Let’s just not assume that, every few weeks, there’s a mass shooting that gets publicity.
Every few months, there’s one that gets national publicity. Every day, there are a whole bunch of folks shot on streets around the country that we don’t even hear about. That is — that is not something that we can be satisfied with. And… part of my faith and hope in America is… not that we achieve a perfect union, but that we get better. And we can do better than we’re doing right now, if we come together.”
To view the full executive action statement click here.
To view the transcription of the debate click here.