Politics makes strange bedfellows, as they say. A classical example of this is the U.S. where the nation is divided in coming up with gun control proposals. Hardly a week goes by when there is loss of life somewhere in the U.S. and the longer political bickering continues, the greater would be the loss of life.
The debate on gun control sparked by the loss of 20 children and six teachers in Newton, Connecticut, has hardly subsided when we hear there has been shootings and loss of lives in two schools. Is there no end to violence in United States? Is society in the U.S. gone mad that they cannot control the urge to shoot someone?
President Obama recently launched the biggest gun control measures in generations but it is doubtful where the Republican-dominated Congress will support it. Obama unveiled a bold and potentially historic attempt to curb the increase in mass gun violence. “This is our first task as a society: keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged,” Obama said. “We can’t put this off any longer.”
The proposal is broken down into four main areas such as law enforcement, the availability of dangerous firearms and ammunition, school safety and mental health.
The president’s proposals, estimated to cost $500 million, recommends criminal background checks for all gun sales; reinstating the assault weapons ban; restoring a 10-round limit on ammunition magazines; eliminating armor-piercing bullets; providing mental health services in schools; allocating funds to hire more police officers; and instituting a federal gun trafficking statute.
“I intend to use whatever weight this office holds to make them a reality,” said the president, speaking about his full set of recommendations. “If there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.”
Putting together ideas and recommendations is the easy part. Selling them to the American legislators, especially the Republicans, is another thing.
“I will put everything I’ve got into this and so will Joe [Biden]. But I tell you, the only way we can change is if the American people demand it,” said Obama. “We are going to need voices in those areas and congressional districts where the tradition of gun ownership is strong.”
“It can’t just be the usual suspects,” he continued. “This will not happen unless the American people demand it.”
The biggest opposition to the Obama proposals is expected to come from the American gun lobby, the National Rifle Association.
“It is unfortunate that this administration continues to insist on pushing failed solutions to our nation’s most pressing problems,” the NRA said following a meeting with Biden. “We will not allow law-abiding gun owners to be blamed for the acts of criminals and madmen.”
NRA has also launched an ad campaign criticizing Obama as an “elitist hypocrite” for opposing their proposal, made after the Newtown, Conn. shooting, to place armed guards in all of the nation’s schools. “Are the president’s kids more important than yours?” it begins. “Then why is he skeptical about armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their school?”
Another challenge that the Obama administration is facing is the American public opinion. The administration must galvanize public opinion in its favour and hence faces a tremendous public relations exercise. There is no doubt that the NRA will lobby Congress to vote against gun control legislation but the American public must pressure their legislators to place kids before politics.
According to a new Associated Press-GfK poll, nearly six in 10 Americans want stricter gun laws in the aftermath of the shootings in Connecticut, with majorities favoring a nationwide ban on military-style, rapid-fire weapons and limits on gun violence depicted in video games, movies and TV shows.
The NRA attack on security for the president’s kids has done more harm than good to them because several people commented that while the president’s kids are not important than anyone else’s but they are more likely to be targeted because their father is the president of United States.
“It’s not that his kids are more important, but that attacks on them could be used to manipulate the president, and that they’re effectively ‘targets’ to those that would wish to harm the USA,” someone commented.