By Jackson Booth, Contributor
President Barack Obama has finally done it. He has confronted the National Rifle Association’s bullying machine. Whether or not his words spoken during his gun violence speech last Wednesday will be met with congressional action, President Obama has accomplished something great.
For the first time in over a decade, the president has refused to listen to the NRA and gun lobby rhetoric that paints any sort of sensible gun control policy as tyrannical. By issuing 23 executive orders, which he did so under the parameters of the constitution, he has promised to provide funding for gun violence research, school resource officers, mental health services, stricter background checks of gun purchasers, just to name a few.
Along with these executive orders, Obama pressured Congress to pass legislation that will do the following things: require universal background checks for gun purchasers, ban the sale of assault weapons and limit magazines to ten rounds.
It was not long before my Facebook news feed was overloaded with anti-Obama rhetoric saying that his actions were unconstitutional and that banning assault weapons violates the second amendment. The National Rifle Association recently aired a television ad claiming that President Obama is against putting armed guards in schools while his own children attend a school with armed guards. This is a clear misrepresentation of President Obama’s idea on gun policy. The NRA advocated that teachers be armed, and President Obama has stated that he is against that proposition. However, he is not against having armed and trained resource officers in schools. President Obama is not the only one taking heat on this issue.
Piers Morgan was met with a firestorm of criticism when Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, blatantly promulgated misinformation about gun-related homicides in the United Kingdom. Pratt suggested that in 2011 in the UK there were 970 gun-related homicides; in reality there were 39. There were 49 gun-related homicides in the UK in 2012 according to the United Nations office of Drugs and Crime. In the United States, there were 9,146.
What is frightening to me about this entire discourse on gun control is the disregard for truth.
The National Rifle Association and Gun Owners of America should be ashamed of themselves for fear mongering and propagating an anti-gun control message that not only ignores truth but a basic understanding of the Constitution.
The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” I cannot think of a single reason to dispute that our founding fathers did not intend for us to have the right to purchase guns for our own protection; the reality is we have that right. While the founders wrote the Constitution in order to explain the limits of the federal government, it also explicitly shows that the government serves a purpose. One of those functions is to protect us through various means.
Something that has been ignored in this discourse is found in Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, which states, “The Congress shall have Power To…provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States,” and later says, “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes.”
By definition, Congress has the right to protect us and, in this context, that means by protecting the Second Amendment. However, it is also important to understand that Congress also has the power to regulate commerce, which would include the production and selling of firearms. There are numerous portions of the Constitution that can be used to defend one issue or another. However, it is important to note that these two sections of the Constitution are incredibly important; one cannot outweigh the other.
Congress has the right to pursue an assault weapons ban, a magazine limit and universal background check regulation, if they so choose. It is their right granted under the Constitution. Beyond their right to take such action, it is their moral obligation.
9,146 people were killed by firearms in the U.S. in 2012.
That is unacceptable.
We are facing a slippery slope if we continue to defend assault weapon ownership simply because we have a right to, especially when talking about the safety of children and all other citizens.
Simply because we have a right to something does not make it morally right. Congress needs to follow the President and take a comprehensive and responsible approach to gun control reform.
As far as the gun lobby is concerned, please stop the fear mongering and start telling the truth.