I was never more ashamed of my government than on that fateful day in April 2013, when the U.S. Senate voted to block common-sense gun control legislation that would have expanded background checks in the wake of Sandy Hook. The key word is “blocked.” The measure, which would have prevented criminals and people with mental illnesses from buying a gun, actually passed with 54 votes, but because it didn’t get those three extra votes the Senate GOP and several red-state, Pro-NRA Democrats were able to filibuster it. I’m thinking about you, Mark Pryor. How did that vote turn out for you?
In the almost three years since that “shameful day for Washington,” as the President described it while standing in the Rose Garden with family members affected by Sandy Hook, this nation has experienced even more senseless gun tragedies in Isla Vista, in Charleston, in Lafayette, in Roseburg, in Colorado Springs, and just recently in San Bernardino.
About 33,000 Americans died in 2013 from gun violence, including 21,000 who used guns to take their own lives. This has gone far enough, and that’s why I’m glad the President acted yesterday.
With Congress unwilling to do their jobs, instead focusing on another Repeal Obamacare bill, the President stood with Gabby Giffords, who was shot in the head in the Tucson Massacre five years ago that left six people dead, along with several other people affected by gun violence, to announce his executive order that would help prevent tragedies like Tucson and Newtown and San Bernardino from happening in the future.
The core of the executive order is that it would expand background checks to guns purchased online or at gun shows. This is supported by 90 percent of Americans, including 90 percent of gun owners, which isn’t much of a surprise because it’s common sense.
What’s the point of going to a gun store and finding out your criminal history prevents you from buying a gun when you can just buy one at a gun show, or, more conveniently, buy one over the internet?
The executive order will also direct the FBI to hire an additional staff of 230 to help process background checks 24/7. About $500 million in additional funding for mental health services would need Congressional approval.
By far the biggest moment of the speech was when the President shed a tear when mentioning the first graders that were gunned down at Sandy Hook, saying that whenever he thinks of them it “makes me mad.” It makes me mad too, that we live in a country where most of our representatives care more about scoring political points and winning the next election than keeping their constituents safe. But I’m glad at least we have a president who understands that this has gone on long enough, and that we need to do something about it.