- Posted January 17, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Gun control debate: Background checks
Gun Control and the Path Forwar
Vice President Joe Biden 1/16/13
On January 16th 2013, shortly over a month since the Newtown Connecticut shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, President Barack Obama released a series of proposals and announced 23 various 'Executive Actions' that he would take immediately to combat the very real problem of guns in America. Days before and minutes after this announcement gun rights groups began their assault on the plan. As the nation continues to grapple with the increased gun violence in recent years the path forward remains murky at best.
The National Rifle Association (NRA) has pledged that this will be the "fight of the century." The White House would do wise to take them seriously. For decades the NRA has been a strong voice of gun rights advocacy effectively stopping legislation that would ban specific weaponry or place severe limitations on a firearm owners' right to bear arms. Armed with 3.6 million members (and growing) the NRA speaks for a segment of the country. They can utilize this power to push on legislators to vote against or for legislation as the organization sees appropriate.
The Constitution will be a double edged sword for this administration. It clearly states that ".... the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed" For 250 years scholars and smarter men than us have deliberated over what rights and or limitations the 2nd Amendment of the Constitution allows for. There have been thousand page books written on the subject and still at the end there are those left to wonder. For the liberal wing of the country the Constitution is clear, and for the conservative wing it is just as clear. As the Obama administration tries to navigate the already treacherous waters of gun control they'll have to tread even more cautiously with this one.
Republicans in the country have long been full unabridged supporters of the 2nd Amendment and it's affirmation of the right of all citizens to keep and carry weapons. With a republican controlled House of Representatives and a filibuster-capable number in the Senate any attempts to pass legislation through Congress will surely be met with opposition. Beyond the United States Congress there lies another lurking monster: republican governors. Governors in states like Texas, Arizona, Florida, Louisiana and elsewhere have preemptively stated they will meet any federal action with powerful state authority. Within the respective states also lies the issue of republicans in the State Assemblies and Senate. Even in democratic states like Oregon and Michigan the threat of obstruction by republicans in the state legislature could stop any action taken federally or by the state. Referring back to the Constitution the issue of who has more authority: States or the Federal Government arises yet again, perhaps more so than ever when it comes to gun control. Beyond the legislature aspect there still lies the "Unconstitutional" threat from Supreme Court justices. Whatever is passed can always be challenged by citizens upset with the law and it is very likely that the Supreme Court rule gun control legislation unconstitutional.
Democrats can also be a source of opposition to the administration. Even before the White House had released it's proposals some top democrats were labeling various possibilities as 'non-starters' in the quest for greater gun control. Most notable among these is Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) who practically threw out the notion of an assault weapons ban because although it would "possibly pass the Senate. It would almost surely die in the House." Democrats nationwide have denounced Senator Reid, some calling him a coward. Senator Reid carries a B rating with the NRA having long been a gun rights advocate. In 2010 when running for re-election he reaffirmed his support of gun rights for citizens not just in Nevada but nationwide.
The Path Forward
"It is better to win ugly than lose nobly" says Politico's Glenn Thrush. That may be true for this administration in it's attempt to pass more gun control. Any legislation passed would be the biggest change to gun laws in a generation and that in and of itself would be a challenge. Up against the aforementioned opposition this administration may have to settle for at least having tried to do something and running on that in 2014 then a renewed push for gun legislation if the democrats can retain the Senate and win back the House.
Executive Actions are a sure way forward for the administration. Left unchecked they can have some real impact in the way the federal government conducts business concerning gun laws already on the books. On Wednesday when President Obama signed his 23 Executive Actions there was no mention of Executive Orders, which are more controversial especially for this administration.
The Constitution as mentioned above will be a double edged sword. The first segment of the Second Amendment provides that "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State..." however we all know what the second part of that says. As mentioned above historians and scholars have debated what interpretations the Constitution allows for the 2nd Amendment for two centuries and the answer remains just as hazy.
Democrats will surely be a necessary source of support in the push for more gun control. For decades gun control advocates have been seeking strong leadership and with President Obama they may have found their answer.
Republicans as well could be helpful. Following Sandy Hook many longtime gun rights advocates came out in support of new common sense gun control legislation.
To say the least the path forward for the Obama Administration will be bumpy, full of many curves and long. There is bound to be some political blood shed on both sides of the aisle. What is worth noting however is that President Obama first pledged to take action just after the shooting at Newtown and a month later he did. What remains to be seen is where his suggestions will go in a divided Congress. If even one part of his suggestions is passed though it will surely be a benchmark of this administration's power. Going into this battle the country is nearly split down the middle about what to do, but public polling suggests the public is on the side of the White House: action must be taken. One caveat to Vice President Biden's statement that "The world is changing and it's demanding action" is the simple facts of America. America has a tendency to change when it is ready to and not when the world is. In fact it is usually the case that America pushes on the world to change. While the world may be demanding action and the greater public as well the truth is that we are a Representative Democracy and not a True Democracy. Although one of the freest and truest nations in the history of the world that will serve as a roadblock to future gun control efforts. The stubbornness of a few: 535 in Congress, One President, and 9 Justices will always jeopardize the accurate representation of the country