- Posted January 16, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
Gun Violence: Americans say the Buck Stops Right Here!
Exactly the reason why President Barack Obama made a poignant reference to the same while unveiling the much anticipated gun control program on January 16th. While urging the public to keep up the momentum for effective gun regulations, he said, "the only way we can change is if the American people demand it." For now the President has silenced his critics by signing 23 executive actions and separately asking Congress to pass gun laws. The $500m package of executive actions mainly included “common sense measures” - improvements in the existing system for background checks, lifting the ban on federal research into gun violence, employing more counselors in schools and better access to mental health services. The tougher pragmatic steps like reinstatement of a ban on "military-style" assault weapons and criminal background checks for gun sales is now in the court of the Congress.
Just a day before this announcement, New York Governor showed the way by signing the Nation’s first gun control bill since the gruesome massacre at Newtown school. The laws fortify New York's existing assault weapons ban, limit the number of bullets allowed in magazines and strengthen rules that govern the mentally ill, which includes a requirement to report potentially harmful behavior.
Politicians across the spectrum began taking serious note of the issue due to the never before seen public outcry against gun violence that has clearly changed the rules of the game. Needless to say the White House itself was shaken by the raging debate over the past month. A comparison with the Clinton era was sure to follow. During Clinton administration there were efforts to fully enforce the gun laws, the highlight being a decade long assault weapons ban. It was mainly achieved through innovative crime gun tracing projects, partnerships with state and local law enforcement and tough prosecution steps. But observers suggested that the Obama administration had clearly failed to live up to that legacy and has not used its executive powers to the fullest to fight illegal guns. Although President Barack Obama and his team knew very well that the actual regulation is easier said than done, the response was swift. He appointed his most trusted man, Vice President Joe Biden, to brainstorm and find a solution to the crisis that has gripped the American Society.
Even though the President made it clear that politics should be kept out of this issue, media is abuzz with stories about the might of what is touted to be a highly influential organization in the corridors of White House – The National Rifle Association. This is one major organization in the country which has promoted gun ownership and is of course vehemently opposed to bringing about any new regulations that would curb the use of the weapon. But this time public sentiment is far removed from any such fierce opposition. The NRA has taken on the President himself for being vociferous about its unhealthy influence in society. Just a day before Obama was scheduled to announce the executive actions, they aired an anti-gun control advertisement targeting the president's two school going daughters. The ad questioned, “why is Obama sceptical about putting armed security in our schools when his kids are protected by armed guards at their schools?” The White House spokesperson responded by calling the personal attack “repugnant and cowardly”.
Take a look at the statistics to understand how difficult it was for the World’s most advanced community to hate guns. Perhaps the lesson was meant to be learnt the hard way.
The US has the highest gun ownership rate in the world - there are 89 guns for every 100 Americans, compared to 6 in England and Wales.
According to the FBI crime data, in 2011 alone, there were 12,664 murders in the US. Of those, 8,583 were caused by firearms.
There is no doubt to the fact that gun culture is deeply embedded in the layers of American Society. But majority of the population now agrees that some sort of effective regulation should be in place which determines who uses this weapon for what purpose. I would end by mentioning about a protest that I witnessed in Seattle on January, 13th. A cold Sunday evening saw mothers, church and civil organizations, men and children joining hands to organize a peaceful procession. Over thousand people from all walks of life, with no race, color barrier, were seen holding placards that said, ‘We own guns, guns don’t own us’. Across the length and breadth of the country many such protests are marking the beginning of the end of gun violence.