President Obama addressed the nation this morning, one week after the Sandy Hook massacre that left twenty small children and six educators dead. He responded specifically to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have signed petitions at WethePeople.org asking for the White House to address gun violence. This morning’s address is a welcome signal of our president’s commitment to take firm and decisive action at this time of national mourning, when the conversation about gun rights has shifted. Obama says that, while “the second amendment guarantees the individual right to bear arms,” certain changes are necessary and sensible, changes that “both protect our rights and protect our kids,” and have received the support not just of gun control advocates but also of responsible gun owners.
“I need your help,” Obama says. “It’s going to take a sustained effort from mothers and fathers, daughters and sons, law enforcement, and responsible gun owners, organizers, speaking up, calling their members of Congress as much as it takes, standing up and saying ‘enough’ on behalf of all our kids…You started something and now I’m asking you to keep at it. I’m asking for you to make a real, meaningful difference in the lives of our kids and our country.”
Here are his specific proposals:
- Ban military style assault weapons
- Ban high capacity clips
- Eliminate legal loopholes that allow criminals to get their hands on guns
- Strengthen school safety
- Strengthen mental health care
- Address a culture that too often glorifies violence
The first three items on the list are common sense, specific legislation that Congress has the power to implement within the next few weeks if they have the courage to stand up to the gun lobby. The others–addressing mental health and a culture of violence–are far more complex and will require a long-term commitment to funding, research, and serious action taken by parents within homes across the country to address the issues their own children face.
While parts of the issue are, indeed, complex, certain things are not. It is not complicated to ban assault weapons and high magazine clips. It is not complicated to require background checks. Please call your members of Congress, especially those who have a record of bowing to the NRA, and demand change. Here is a list of Congress members who receive contributions from the NRA.