On December 14th, 2012, Adam Lanza shot 20 students and six staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School. He shot first graders and special education teachers. He took away America’s future. One would think that the murders of first graders would wake up our government and help usher in reforms and protections—both to ensure that guns had proper regulations and that the mentally ill had proper treatment.
However, Vox reports that “There have been at least 1,044 mass shootings, with shooters killing at least 1,327 people and wounding 3,784 more” since the Sandy Hook massacre. One of these was the heinous Charleston shooting when a white supremacist decided to kill African-American church members.
Dylann Roof was able to buy his gun due to a loophole in the background check law, The Washington Post reports.
Because of his criminal record, Roof would not have been able to buy a gun from a store. Federally licensed gun dealers are required to run background checks on gun purchasers, and Roof’s pending charges should have turned up as a red flag. But Roof didn’t need to go to a dealership. According to his uncle, Roof received a .45-caliber pistol from his father in April for his birthday.
Because loopholes enabled a man with a prior felony to obtain a weapon, Roof is proof that background checks are necessary in order to ensure safety. Transferring cars and property require paperwork, checks, and proper safety procedures. Why shouldn’t weapons include the same scrutiny?
Obama just laid out a new executive order with widespread support. The order hits on four areas of improvement: increased background checks, crackdown on illegal gun sales, increased mental health treatment, and conducting research on gun safety technology.
However, there was also the ever-predictable backlash from the conservative NRA-supported bloc. Many people fear the this executive order will take away people’s gun or limit Second Amendment rights, but the new guidelines will not change how recreational gun users relate to and purchase guns. In actuality, this new order does not change life at all for law abiding, recreational gun users.
So what will change? Well, all gun sellers must have a license and must do background checks on every gun buyer. To help with the increased need for checks, there will be over 200 new agents to help. There will also be large budget increases to help support mental health initiatives and treatments. Another huge aspect is the focus on gun safety technology. This does not mean gun safety lessons, but how the weapon itself can be safer so that there are fewer accidents.
Overall, this is very straightforward and will not negatively impact gun owners and users. You are still eligible to buy a gun and hunt or shoot at targets, but you will have to undergo a background check. If you have no felony history, congratulations—you get your gun! If you do, sorry, but no gun for you (because you weren’t supposed to have one in the first place). Try yoga instead. Yes, those wishing to purchase might have to wait a little bit longer in order to get a gun, but there’s no need for instantaneous gun purchases. If you do feel the need for a gun right now, you probably really, really, really don’t actually need it.
Still, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan finds this action to be a “form of intimidation that undermines liberty.” He furthers that the order infringes upon the Second Amendment. However, it really doesn’t. All it does it make sure that guns are not getting into the hands of people who legally do not have access to firearms. If you are legally allowed to get a gun (e.g. you haven’t commited a violent felony), then you can still have your gun.
Other critics also dislike that the President used an executive order to push the background checks. But what other choice did he have? Congress has let him down time and time again. Due to the NRA and other gun lobbyists, Congress has had its hands tied. Obama doesn’t. He isn’t running anymore and so has no problem pushing through an order that this country desperately needs. Part of the reason the U.S. even has a president and executive orders is so that he or she can enact the policies this country needs in the face of gridlock and opposition.
This executive order was more than necessary in light of this country’s long history of gun deaths and mass shootings. We need more regulation and there needs to be follow through. States need to comply and there needs to be room in the budget for the additional investigators who will do the background checks. However, at least this is a start. Maybe this could prevent the next Sandy Hook or Columbine or Aurora.