In two related events it is increasingly becoming clear that the Obama administration and those who find themselves close to him on this issue are not going to sit idle on the existing gun-law controversy in the US. At least one state has moved swiftly to draw new laws even as US President Barack Obama has declared that he will do everything within his capacity to see that the US mind-set and activity around gun laws change, either through persuasion or through coercion, i.e by enacting new laws. A month into the gruesome killings of schoolchildren at the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, the New York Governor last Tuesday signed a new law, revoking many of the provisions of the exiting gun law in the state. Democrat Governor Andrew Cuomo, increasingly being looked upon as dynamic and effective enough to play a more national role, signed new laws – known as New York Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, or NY SAFE – on Tuesday evening after having it passed by wide margins in both the Senate and Assembly.
The centrepiece of the new law was a bolstered ban on assault weapons as well as limiting magazines to a maximum seven rounds. There were also measures to give the state greater power to confiscate weapons from the mentally ill deemed violent. Though he is getting some flak from the mental health organisations as well as rival lawmakers who have accused him of rushing into the law for personal glory, he insists that it was a necessary step in the right direction. By all means, it was. Whatever the American right would insist, US gun laws need serious relook and the efforts of lawmakers like Cuomo must be considered with due esteem.
Cuomo would be bolstered by the support he is likely to get from the Obama administration which is now going full steam with its declared intention of changing national gun laws. And Obama has gone head on Wednesday by signing executive decisions on this issue even before he is to formally take oath on the 20 January for his second term. This is also to send out the clear signal that his government is not to wait for formalities to clamp down on easy procurement, movement and use of guns in America. Obama has vowed to put everything he can into seeing the law through Congress, which like the fiscal cliff debate, could be a long and agonising process for the administration. But whatever it takes, it is indeed heartening to see that an American president has taken the lead to curb guns in the US. And except a few headstrong Republicans and members of the old right, most people is likely to side with a decision that can only be deemed benevolent for lives of men and woman. Both inside and outside the US.