Editor’s note: President Obama addressed the nation on gun violence and reform earlier today. Many moments from his speech are mentioned below. Watch the full stream, with Obama’s speech starting at 42:00, here.
I would like to first applaud you on using your presidency as tool to repetitively call for action on gun control and now take initiative on the matter since Congress has continually failed to do so.
To stand in front of the nation on numerous occasions to express sympathy for the families and loved ones of those who we as a country have lost to gun violence is no easy task. When facing one of the most partisan, ineffective Congresses in American history, it’s just as difficult to successfully do anything to prevent the undeniable violence that awaits future Americans. The situation in which you are standing in front of the United States speaking on the detriment of gun violence will likely come about again before your term is up.
Despite this, you speak bravely against the rampant amount of gun misuse and violence in our country without trying to polarize the issue. Because of this I would also like to thank you for attempting to put the issue of gun control into a wider point of view. Though I may not even directly agree about the aims of the Second Amendment, I do respect that you have every intention of upholding the general view of the law that many Republicans and gun owners hold sacred.
Your proposed plan, not to end gun ownership by any means, but to expand the current background check systems to include online and show sales, increase funding for mental health treatment by $500 million, expand the FBI staff and institute further security and safety measures for legal weapons properly addresses the majority of common sense issues currently facing the United States’ internationally unmatched amount of gun violence.
Still, it is likely that it will not be enough to prevent tragedy from occurring in our streets, our movie theaters, our supermarkets and our schools. And for the violence and the somewhat hateful culture found throughout too much of our country, I’m sorry that you bear the responsibility of addressing some of the most incurable issues.
Much of your speech earlier today related back to statistics and numbers – such as the matter that gun violence claims nearly as many lives as automobile accidents each year. For those who are unimpressed by the 30,000 shot dead every year as a result of faulty gun control, things need more perspective, which was granted to the American people you spoke to as you brought about the case of the first graders who were killed in Newtown, the students who died in Columbine or the teenager who ended his life for the protection of three other teenaged girls.
These situations all show how hard it truly is to put numbers onto gun violence. It seems that thousands upon thousands can drop in the streets while partisan Republicans cling onto power by trying to instill fear among gun owners who value their weapons above public safety. In a room crowded with individuals who know the toll of gun violence all too well, you spoke strongly until you paused for a moment to recollect, wiping tears from your face.
“Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad.” Anger and frustration are both understandable in a situation such as your own as the Republican party and gun lobbyists alike argue untruthfully that the aim of this executive action is to make it impossible for any U.S. citizen to obtain a gun. This argument is only making it impossible for progress to ensue, and why? And at what cost?
The fear that guns will be completely eradicated is (somewhat unfortunately) impossible to truly achieve. Politicians and most individuals alike understand this, but continue to use gun-ownership rights as a basis to gain some kind of power and control while endlessly spending thousands of lives.
Some day, I’m confident, an incident will occur (and heartbreakingly so) that will force gun reform to take the necessary front it currently deserves. From listening to and watching your speeches, it’s obvious that the first deadly bullet that hit an innocent American proved important enough to call off the uncertainty behind restricting gun rights.
Hopefully and eventually, the rest of our nation will catch up with the ideology that promotes peace and responsibility over violence and death. With any luck, it will happen before the next Virginia Tech or Newtown or Columbine.
With respect and gratitude,
An optimistic, future political science student