I wont lie to you, when I first heard that Obama was going to hold a big press conference to unveil his grand scheme to curb gun violence I immediately expected the worst. Then when the news broke that he was going to be surrounded by school children during the conference I really started to worry. After all, if whatever he was proposing was so bold that he needed a desperate propaganda prop like a bunch of adorable first graders to help him break the news to us then it seemed reasonable to assume that the announcement was really going to rile up some feathers. Needless to say, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to learning about the whopping 23 executive orders that Obama was signing in regards to gun control.
So the the press conference ended a few hours ago, and those 23 executive orders have all been signed into law by President Obama. And here’s the funny thing. Out of those 23 executive orders issued today I can safely say that I, as both a gun owner and strong gun rights advocate, agree with every single one. Not just one of them. Not just two or three or ten of them. No, I think all 23 of those executive orders are absolutely fantastic ideas and exactly the kind of “gun control” we need (you know, as opposed to arbitrarily banning weapons based on their appearance).
Honestly, I think you’d be hard pressed to come up with a reason as why any of the reforms (complete list here) enacted today are somehow bad for the country. Look at the list- not only do you have things like stronger background checks for both public and private sales, but you also have such proposals as providing school officials with training for active shooter situations, making it so that healthcare officials can legally report on threats of violence (something that very well could have prevented the Aurora shootings), and much needed sweeping reforms to our mental health care system. I’m not going to go through each and every proposal, but suffice to say the package definitely addresses gun safety, education, and awareness without infringing on the rights of any law-abiding citizen. So for that I say kudos to Mr. Obama. You pleasantly surprised me there.
That being said, this should be the end of the gun reforms. Obama has done his part- his reforms should more than curb gun violence and his legacy towards making America safer secured. The discussion should be over. Unfortunately that is not the case.
Between 1994 and 2004 there was a ban on “assault weapons” in this country. I put quotation marks around the term “assault weapons” because technically all guns are “assault weapons.” You have pistols, shotguns, rifles (both bolt and semi-automatic varieties), assault rifles, light machine guns and so on and so forth. Pistols, shotguns, and rifles have traditionally been legal in the United States. Assault rifles, however, which are fully automatic and include such weapons as the M16, AK-47, and M4A1 carbines, have been illegal for purchase by civilians since 1986 and are tightly controlled by the government.
Over the course of this whole gun control debate I have heard countless times all about how the proposed “assault weapon” ban isn’t a bad thing because normal people don’t need access to military grade weapons. Except we aren’t talking about military grade weapons here. The AR-15 and it’s variants are not military grade whatsoever, unless you count the fact that the rifle bears a striking resemblance to the M16. Assault rifles are fully automatic. ”Assault weapons” are semi-automatic, but then again so are some shotguns and virtually all handguns. So it seems kind of silly to ban a gun just because it looks like a more dangerous gun. When I was a kid I had an airsoft gun that was modeled after an M16. Should we ban those too? Or perhaps we should attach orange barrel tips on all AR-15′s so we can finally stop calling a glorified hunting rifle “military grade.”
Then there’s the fact that gun control just flat out doesn’t work. Take for example the murder capital of the United States, Chicago. A mind-numbing 506 people were murdered within the city limits during 2012. Coincidentally, Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the country. Not only is the sale of both handguns and “assault weapons” illegal, but open carry, concealed carry, and high capacity magazines are also prohibited. Knowing that, 500+ murders isn’t exactly what you would expect from a city that is supposed to be gun-free. Not that this should come as a surprise: gun control has historically not had much of an effect on violent crime, at least not in the United States.
And while we’re at it let’s not forgot about the Columbine and Virginia Tech shootings. The Columbine shooting actually occurred during the previous AWB, which also included a ban on high capacity magazines. So instead of using an AR-15 with a collapsible stock and and a three or four 30 round magazines, one of the shooters instead brought a Hi-Point Model 995 with more than a dozen ten round magazines, a semi-automatic rifle that lacked the characteristics of an “assault weapon” and as such remained legal during the ban. The Virginia Tech shooter used two legal semi-automatic handguns with multiple ten round magazines for each. All of these weapons would (presumably) remain legal under the ban Obama has told us we so desperately need.
Yes, an AR-15 was used in both the Aurora and Newtown shootings. Does that mean that particular rifle and it’s kin all need to be banned? Nearly all gun crimes are committed with handguns. Does that mean we should ban those too? And why not shotguns while we’re at it? Where do you draw the line? Sure the past AWB came and went without any serious implications for gun owners. No one came and took anyone’s guns away. But the experiment was ultimately a failure, as well being extremely costly in terms of political capital for the Democratic party. Why waste all that time and energy meddling with unnecessary gun laws when there are far more pressing issues that the folks in Washington should be concerning themselves with? Worst of all, by enacting another AWB our government is setting a dangerous precedent for reactionary lawmaking, which is not how you want your government writing and passing laws.
In all likelihood the 23 executive orders signed into law today will be more than enough to address the growing concerns in this nation about gun violence. Obama did some good today. He should leave it at that.