On January 5, President Obama announced an executive order to create new gun control restrictions without needing approval from Congress. The key to the President’s initiative requires all businesses that sell guns to conduct background checks on customers before making a sale. This law will effectively close the loophole that previously allowed anyone to purchase a gun from gun shows or auctions without a proper background check. President Obama also cited three other important points to his plan, which include stronger enforcement of current gun laws, increased gun safety technology, and added assistance for the mentally ill.
Naturally, President Obama’s action has been met with some strong opposition. Following the President’s press conference, spokesperson Jennifer Baker of the National Rifle Association told Fox News that President Obama is simply "doing what he always does when he doesn’t get his way, which is defy the will of the people and issue an executive order.” While Baker claims that the majority of Americans oppose gun control, a poll conducted in October of 2015 shows that 55 percent of Americans are in favor of stricter gun laws. Considering recent history, it’s easy to see why.
Just last month, San Bernardino experienced a terrorist attack that took the lives of 14 innocent people with 22 left injured. Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik conspired to wreak havoc on a holiday party and continue out on the streets as part of a potential ISIS-affiliated attack. Investigators also discovered that Farook’s friend Enrique Marquez, who currently resides in a mental institution, originally purchased two firearms used in the attack. Had President Obama’s initiative been effective last year, background checks could’ve prevented the sale of guns to any of these assailants.
Southern California is no stranger to these types of massacres. A Santa Barbara City College student named Elliot Rodger killed six people (and himself) during a shooting rampage in Isla Vista. A day before the massacre, Rodger posted a video to YouTube describing his gruesome plan to take revenge on the people who rejected him throughout his life. Prior to his vengeful exhibition, Rodger displayed concerning behavior that prompted his parents to send medical attention and the authorities to check on Rodger’s status. Rodger had also been involved in therapy for years due to his unstable mental condition. Not only would President Obama’s initiative have kept Rodger’s three handguns out of his possession, it would have also providde the necessary attention Rodger required in order to improve his mental health.
The “smoking gun” in President Obama’s justification for tightening gun control laws was a third mass shooting that occurred in 2012. The President fought back tears as he recalled the 20 children that were gunned down by Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. In addition, Lanza’s own mother along with six school faculty members were murdered with multiple gunshots before Lanza took his own life. Investigations revealed that Lanza previously received supervision when handling “soldering tools” due to his inability to experience pain like most people do. Lanza was also referred to as “deeply troubled” by fellow classmates in high school after his parents went through a divorce. Lanza is yet another example of a criminal who could’ve been stopped by President Obama’s gun initiative.
“I believe in the Second Amendment…I also believe that we can find ways to reduce gun violence consistent with the Second Amendment.”
Contrary to opposing views, President Obama is not looking to eliminate civilian gun possession. With 30,000 deaths attributed to gun violence every year, however, he is working to ensure that such powerful machinery is used for the greater good of the American people. This executive order is not meant to stop Americans from obtaining guns, it is meant to prevent the senseless violence that occurs when the wrong people obtain guns.