Teary Eyed President
US President Barack Obama is clearly fed up with gun violence. He has begun his final full year in office by taking new executive actions on guns. After high-profile mass shootings, President Barack Obama had urged the American people to call on the Congress to pass measures that would restrict access to guns and, hopefully, reduce gun violence. Despite multiple pleas, the Congress did not act. So Obama has now decided to act on his own. “Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns,” Obama said at a press conference on Tuesday. “We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees this kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency.” The changes attempt to tighten what’s widely known as the “gun show loophole,” which is a political term in the United States referring to sales of firearms by private sellers, including those done at gun shows, dubbed the “secondary market”. The Obama administration also seeks to increase the efficiency of the federal background check system to avoid cases from falling through, besides taking other smaller steps, such as improving the tracking of lost or stolen guns. The problem though begins with a number of guns people possess. America has 4.4 percent of the world’s population but almost half of its civilian-owned guns. With mass shootings a common occurrence, it is clear that authorities have not conducted strong background checks on the people buying these weapons. Last month, Senate Republicans voted against barring suspected terrorists, felons, and the mentally ill from getting guns. They’ve reiterated the National Rifle Association’s arguments that doing so would strip some innocent people of their Constitutional rights to gun access just a day after yet another massacre. For the uninitiated, the NRA is an American lobby group which advocates for gun rights enshrined in the 2nd Amendment of the US Constitution. Suffice to say, the NRA is a major player in American politics. According to a recent study, the NRA spent $11,159,167 on the 2012 election cycle, making it one of the biggest spenders. Moreover, in acting without congressional approval, Obama is taking more than a calculated risk. Besides challenging these executive actions in court, a future Republican president could unilaterally reverse Obama’s actions. Tears or no tears, unless the Obama administration can secure support from the US Congress, these executive actions will have a short shelf life.