Political Focus: Obama’s plan for gun control

Melissa Deatsch

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What’s the issue?

President Obama said gun violence will be his main focus during his last year of presidency. On Jan. 5, the president announced his plans for executive actions throughout 2016 to try and curb gun violence.  

The actions include, most notably, creating a clearer, more detailed definition for which businesses need a federal license to sell guns and conduct background checks on every buyer, as well as a rule that would allow for the federal background check registry to have access to mental health records.  

“Anybody in the business of selling firearms must get a license and conduct background checks, or be subject to criminal prosecutions,” the president stated.  “It doesn’t matter whether you’re doing it over the Internet or at a gun show. It’s not where you do it, but what you do.”

What are the popular viewpoints?

Even President Obama himself has acknowledged the lack of dramatic impact these executive actions will have.  However, he says they are an important first step.  Many Republicans argue that they will have no impact on gun violence in the United States and will only infringe on the Second Amendment.  

In an interview with Fox News, Republican candidate Marco Rubio said the actions “undermine the Second Amendment and will do nothing to keep people safe.” Jeb Bush took to Twitter to call it a “gun-grabbing agenda.” However, Obama continues to insist that he is not after the guns of law-abiding citizens.  He feels all of his executive actions are in line with the Second Amendment.  

Obama has made 20 executive actions to curb gun violence during his presidency and we are still seeing many mass shootings.  There’s a mix in speculation on whether these executive actions will see a different result. 

Senator Rubio backs his point of view by saying that these actions won’t help because criminals don’t follow the law and law abiding citizens will just be inconvenienced. Republican candidate Carly Fiorina feels the president should focus on enforcing the laws we already have.

On the Democratic side, the presidential candidates applauded President Obama’s address.  Hillary Clinton tweeted, “Thank you, POTUS, for taking a crucial step forward on gun violence.  Our next president has to build on that progress- not rip it away.”  

Why should you care?

There were 372 mass shootings in the United States in 2015 according to gunviolencearchive.org.  In this collection of data, a mass shooting is defined as an incident in which four or more people are killed or wounded.  475 people were killed in gun violence last year and 1,870 were wounded.

The president was brought to tears during his address on his new gun control plans at the memories of the mass shootings that have taken place during his presidency, most notably the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary.  On Dec. 14, 2012, 20 first graders and six adults were killed when a gunman entered the school.  

With an election coming up later this year, it’s important to keep in mind that any progress made this year by the Obama administration is likely to be reversed if a Republican candidate takes office and advanced upon if a Democrat is elected.  

It is important to know the facts as well as where you stand on this debate when casting your vote in November.

What do other students think?

Millennials have proved to be a driving force behind cultural change in the US.  It’s the current president’s hope that they buy into his reform plans and push for change regarding gun control.  

However, a Pew Research Center study shows that millennial split almost right down the middle on the issue of gun control.  49 percent of millennials believe it’s more important to control gun ownership than protect gun rights.