President Barack Obama launched the biggest effort for gun-control that this country has seen in generations. Congress has to approve an assault weapons ban and background checks for all gun buyers to minimize the chance of another Sandy Hook Elementary massacre.
At the White House on January 16th, surrounded by young school children who wrote the President letters after the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting, President Obama launched a plan for executive and legislative action against gun violence.
Among the more than 20 actions include charging Congress to pass legislation that bans “military-style assault weapons” and expanding background checks for gun buyers. Some of his proposed actions do not require Congressional passage.
The President took this swift action but reminded everyone that this is not just something he can do, “The only way we can change is if the American people demand it.”
Some of the proposed gun-control actions include:
- Require criminal background checks for all gun sales. (a.k.a. closing the “gun show loophole.”)
- Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
- Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
- Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
- Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
- End the freeze on gun violence research.
- Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
- Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need.
- Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.
A recent poll conducted by ABC News/Washington Post reflects that 53 percent of respondents view Obama’s gun control plan favorably while 41 percent unfavorably. Among other groups, Obama’s proposals are viewed positively by 56 percent of women vs. 49 percent of men; 58 percent of seniors vs. 47 percent of young adults; 66 percent in the Northeast vs. 50 percent in the rest of the country; 72 percent of nonwhites vs. 43 percent of whites; and 73 percent of liberals vs. 36 percent of conservatives.
Atlanta area college presidents supported gun safety legislation with a letter last month that was co-signed by 160 American college and university presidents. Atlanta area College Presidents Lawrence M. Schall of Oglethorpe University, Beverly Tatum at Spelman and Elizabeth Kiss of Agnes Scott were among them.
Letter from Presidents
December 19, 2012
On the same day our nation learned in horror that 20 first graders and six educators were gunned down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, young people around the country were learning if they had been accepted to their favored colleges and universities. For many years now, our nation’s leaders have engaged in fevered debates on higher education, yet lawmakers shy away from taking action on one issue that prevents thousands of young people from living lives of promise, let alone realizing their college dreams. That issue is gun safety.
Among the world’s 23 wealthiest countries, 80% of all gun deaths occur in the United States and 87% of all children killed with guns are killed here (Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery). In 2010, 2,694 young people were killed by gunfire. 1,773 were victims of homicide; 67 were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were alive today, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each.
We are college and university presidents. We are parents. We are Republicans, Democrats and Independents. We urge both our President and Congress to take action on gun control now. As a group, we do not oppose gun ownership. But, in many of our states, legislation has been introduced or passed that would allow gun possession on college campuses. We oppose such laws. We fully understand that reasonable gun safety legislation will not prevent every future murder. Identification and treatment of the mental health issues that lie beneath so many of the mass murders to which we increasingly bear witness must also be addressed.
As educators and parents, we come together to ask our elected representatives to act collectively on behalf of our children by enacting rational gun safety measures, including:
· Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our campuses and in our classrooms
· Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check
· Reinstating the ban on military-style semi-automatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines
· Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks, access prevention laws, and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects
The time has long since passed for silence and inaction on the issue of reasonable and rational gun safety legislation. We hereby request that our nation’s policy leaders take thoughtful and urgent action to ensure that current and future generations may live and learn in a country free from the threat of gun violence.