By ARIANA APOSTOL
The topic of gun control has recently reached an important turning point as President Obama announced plans to use executive action to increase background checks before prospective gun owners can purchase these deadly weapons. Unsurprisingly, however, pushback from pro-gun Republicans in Congress may impede any actions taken to increase the safety of civilians. Without the backing of Congress, this executive action will be easy for a future president to reverse.
President Obama originally called for enhanced gun control after 24 people, including 20 children, were killed in a shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012. Yet his efforts were halted by Republicans in Congress before any restrictive legislation could be passed. There have been more than 32,000 gun-related homicides in America per year since then, according to Vox.com.
Obama’s plan to increase background checks does not aim to skirt Congress, but instead to make an open statement about the severity of gun violence with the current system in place. As CNN reported, the President simply wants to expand the background check system for gun shows and online gun sales as well as provide more funding for mental health treatment, FBI staff and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives agents. In fact, Obama’s plan to decrease gun violence does not create new restrictions; it merely elaborates on already established laws. Even so, the New York Times predicts Obama will face numerous legal, political and logistical issues that could easily reduce the effectiveness of his plan.
Efforts to increase gun control as well as counter-efforts to limit control are not by any means new. Gun control is clearly a critical American issue; according to Vox.com, America had 29.7 gun-related homicides per million in 2012 while countries such as Canada had a mere 5.1. Movements surrounding gun laws have come to the forefront since Sandy Hook, but America’s love of guns traces back to its foundations.
Opponents of gun control often cite the Second Amendment, which provides Americans with the right to bear arms, as their chief source of authority on the gun control issue. Proponents, however, are not arguing that gun sales must stop completely, or that those who already own guns will have them confiscated. They simply want to increase regulations on those who can purchase firearms by increasing background checks. This would not infringe upon anyone’s second amendment rights; in fact, it would uphold a core value of America – the protection of its citizens. Any mentally stable, upright citizen would still be able to purchase a gun if background checks were to increase, so there is no reason for any rightful gun-owners to be upset. The only remaining reasons not to support increased gun control are ignorance or an unconditional desire to oppose Obama and the Democratic Party, neither of which should be considered a valid concern.