President Obama has stood in front of the nation fifteen times and issued his condolences to families who have lost loved ones in a mass shooting. When he addressed America after twenty children and six teachers were killed in the Newtown Massacre he cried with us. So when he stood in front of us last week, after yet another mass shooting in America, he was angry. He looked out at the bank of cameras and told us that he was tired of standing before us, expressing his condolences, while lawmakers refuse to pass stricter gun laws. However, according to recent news reports President Obama is sick of waiting for Congress to act and is considering using his executive powers to pass the laws we desperately need to stem the bleeding in this country as the NRA and Republicans scramble to disparage his efforts.
The Washington Post is reporting that President Obama may circumvent Congress and use an executive action to implement a universal background check for high-volume gun dealers. The new rule would require dealers who exceed a certain number of sales to obtain a license from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and perform background checks on potential buyers.
Two years ago, after the Newtown Massacre, the president asked Congress to pass the same measure instead of taking the action himself. Just four months after one of the most heartbreaking mass shootings in the country, Senate Republicans dashed any hopes of gun control legislation from being enacted. One by one, the GOP defeated the commonsense firearm bills and let America know that the National Rifle Association was far more important than the lives of our kids. President Obama expressed disgust after watching every bill fail:
“All in all, this was a pretty shameful day for Washington.”
Over the ensuing years, Former Representative Gabby Giffords and other Democrats have called on the legislature to pass a bill to no avail. The GOP refuses to pass a universal background check even though 92 percent of gun-owners and 86 percent of Republicans are in favor of them.
Meanwhile, as every attempt to pass gun legislation failed, we watched news coverage of shooting after shooting and more and more people dying. There have been so many mass shootings, that we have become numb to them. We report on them as if it’s just another day in America. When President Obama spoke to us after the last mass shooting he said:
“Somehow this has become routine…And each time this happens I’m going to bring this up. Each time this happens I am going to say that we can actually do something about it, but we’re going to have to change our laws. And this is not something I can do by myself. I’ve got to have a Congress and I’ve got to have state legislatures and governors who are willing to work with me on this.”
Obama realizes that we cannot wait anymore. Our country cannot continue to have mass shootings. Our children can’t go anywhere without worrying about being shot and we are the only advanced country that has this problem. The NRA is, of course, claiming that the new rule would “ensnare” law-abiding citizens, but “ensnare” them into what? If you have done nothing wrong and have a clean record, nobody will be prevented from owning a gun. The law is meant to weed out the people who have no business possessing firearms. It is no different from being expected to pass a driving test before operating a vehicle.
The excuses are getting old and America has spoken: We want gun control. If Republicans are too busy pandering to the NRA and gun lobby to give us what we desperately need, then it is the president’s job to step in and protect. We are sick of watching our children die in the name of “freedom,” and so is our president.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.