President Obama takes executive action to close loopholes on background checks for gun sales

On January 5, 2016, President Barack Obama revealed a long-awaited plan to curb the rising gun violence in America with or without Congress. Shedding tears as he spoke about the murdered first graders of the 2012 Newtown School shooting, President Obama signed his executive order as a response to the vast number of mass shootings that occurred in America in the last months of 2015. Though the executive order seems promising, it is far too modest to solve America’s gun turmoil — and even then, President Obama’s rise over gridlock in Congress may fall early due to Republican uproar.

According to the National Conference on State Legislatures, President Obama’s executive order on gun reform closes loopholes by enforcing background checks on gun buyers at gun shows, instructs the FBI to strengthen and increase the use of the National Instant Criminal Background Check System, and requires the inclusion of mental health statuses from the Social Security Administration in background checks. In addition, he proposed a $500 million investment in the health service workforce to increase access to mental health care. These were minor actions that were long overdue, and are ultimately too little to completely cure America’s toxic gun culture, and yet millions of Americans and government officials are sounding the alarm in response to President Obama’s “tyranny.”

It is important to note that an executive order is only temporary. The next president could easily rule the order as null and change the system President Obama has instituted, exposing how limited and fleeting his gun control action could truly be by next year.

I find it shocking that regulations so minor and and so reasonable could be denounced so harshly. One of the most common arguments that people have made against President Obama’s executive order is that it violates the second amendment, the American’s constitutional right to bear arms. However, the plan simply strengthens national security by closing loopholes that may lead to dangerous or even fatal activity if gone unmonitored. Enforcing background checks at gun shows means that guns are more likely to be prevented from falling into the wrong hands. If you aren’t a criminal, obtaining a gun is just as easy as it was before the executive order was passed. Even those with severe mental illnesses are still allowed to purchase guns, a fact that shows how lenient the plan really is.

Perhaps the most alarming argument of all made against President Obama’s executive order is that mass shootings will continue to happen and that attempting to restrict gun control is pointless. President Obama put this reasoning to shame with a counter-argument in his January 5 speech, when according to CNN, he said that “we know we can’t stop every act of violence, every act of evil in the world. But maybe we could try to stop one act of evil, one act of violence.” With 36 Americans dying per day because of gun-related violence, according to CNN, this order is one that must be respected and upheld as we look toward the future of America. Our country’s gun violence culture and history is not one to be trusted, and action, no matter how drastic, must be taken to ensure the safety of the American citizens.

Certainly, there have been American presidents who have abused their power. President Barack Obama is not one of them. In instances where America needs immediate guidance for its own safety while Congress is moving too slowly, it is in the power of our president to make executive decisions for our country, especially if those actions concern the welfare of America. The safety of Americans must be prioritized above an outdated amendment that was written into our Constitution nearly 250 years ago, as our society and culture has evolved dramatically since the eighteenth century.

President Obama’s plan is only a small step for the regulation of gun control, but it paves a path to a safer, more secure nation in the future. Perhaps one day, Americans unaffiliated with the military will be limited to owning a pistol, and rifles will be restricted to shooting ranges. If need be, I would support the removal of the second amendment from our Constitution for the safety and prosperity of our future generations to come and for the termination of American gun violence. Until then, I will continue to push for the protection of Americans so that nothing as horrible as the Newtown shooting ever happens again, an event that could have been prevented by stricter gun security. I applaud President Obama for his executive order and hope that Congress enacts it as legislation as soon as possible.

Image: President Obama fights tears as he reflects on the 2012 Newtown shooting and unveils his executive order aimed at closing loopholes in background checks for gun sales. Image source: Vanity Fair.

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