After weeks of speculation surrounding the possibility of President Barack Obama issuing executive actions on the nation's dire need for a stronger focus on gun control, Obama revealed his plans to help reduce the prevalence of gun-related violence across the country. Ahead of the announcement, so-called gun rights activists immediately started to stir up controversy surrounding the possibility of stricter background checks for those wishing to purchase firearms. Obama, however, pushed forward with his initiative before ultimately revealing his plan during a White House press conference on Tuesday.
Mark Barden, the father of Sandy Hook victim Daniel Barden, introduced Obama and Vice President Joe Biden by reminding the nation that Obama previously "made a promise" that he would do "everything in his power" to keep the nation safe from preventable gun violence. "I still remember the first time we met," Obama said to Barden when taking the podium. "That changed me that day and my hope earnestly has been that it would change the country."
"Too many," Obama said after recounting the recent outburst of mass shooting in the United States. "Every single year, more than 30,000 Americans have their lives cut short by guns. Suicides, domestic violence, gang shoot-outs, accidents. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have lost brothers and sisters or buried their own children. Many have had to learn to live with a disability [or] without the love of their life. A number of those people are here today. They can tell you some stories. In this room right here, there are a lot of stories."
"We are the only advanced country on Earth that sees that kind of mass violence erupt with this kind of frequency," Obama added, pointing to the notion that violence is not a uniquely American problem. "We start thinking this is normal." Speaking directly to conspiracy theorists that continue to perpetuate the notion that Obama is somehow planning to do away with the Second Amendment outright, Obama hesitated very little in rebuking such falsities. "I taught constitutional law," Obama quipped. "I know a little about this."
Though background checks are required at designated "gun stores," some gun sellers are not required to operate under the same set of quite reasonable rules. "Everyone should have to abide by the same rules," Obama said. The POTUS even referenced some Republican rivals' previous statements in apparent accord with the expansion of background check requirements, including two particularly unlikely sources: George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan.
"I reject that thinking," Obama said in response to the "Why bother?" argument proposed by pacifists. "At the same time that Sandy Hook happened, a disturbed person in China took a knife and tried to kill a bunch of children," Obama reminded the nation, "but most of them survived because he didn't have access to a powerful weapon."
Until Congress acts appropriately on the issue of gun law reform, Obama is confident his decision to use his legal authority of executive action to expand background checks to all forms of gun purchases (digital and physical) will help move gun control in the right direction in the years ahead. "We're also taking steps to making the background check system more efficient," Obama added. "We're going to bring an outdated background check system into the 21st century."
"If we can do it for your iPad," Obama said of the ability to track a stolen iPad with ease from the comfort of one's home, "[then] we can do it with a stolen gun." Adding that some retailers have already "stepped up" to support these proposals, Obama asks all retailers to take the task of gun safety seriously. "Every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad," Obama said of the horrific Sandy Hook massacre. "And, by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day."
Obama closed the press conference by calling for a message of unity from gun opponents and fervent supporters alike, asking "the wide majority of responsible gun owners" to step up and make their voices heard among the roar of detractors speaking on their behalf: "All of us need to demand a Congress brave enough to stand up to the gun lobby’s lies."