President Obama’s frustration was evident as he held a press conference on October 1, 2015: “There’s been another mass shooting in America — this time, in a community college in Oregon,” he said. The words “another mass shooting” did not evoke shock and horror that they used to. Perhaps it’s because we’re 274 days into 2015 and there have been 294 mass shootings so far this year alone. It’s mind-boggling to think about what these numbers mean, but one thing we can all agree on is the fact that we’ve become numb to mass shootings. Enough is enough.
However, we cannot agree on how to put an end to these senseless killings. Is it truly a policy issue? Surely there are conservatives that want a reform on gun laws, yet, the most vocal opposition to gun control is coming solely from Republicans.
After the recent Oregon shooting at Umpqua Community College that resulted in the death of nine victims, Republican presidential candidates Jeb Bush literally said “stuff happens.” Donald Trump countered: “If you had a couple teachers with guns in that room, you would have been a hell of a lot better off.”
The Dems finally seem to be ready for action. Hillary Clinton declared, “I will try every way I can to get those guns out of the hands of people who shouldn't have them." Bernie Sanders said, “We’ve got to do something … We need sensible gun control legislation,” though Sanders has been iffy on gun legislation for years.
President Obama has taken 23 executive actions on gun violence since the shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, so what is keeping him from passing a legislation that would make it even just a little bit harder to get a gun? Congress.
As of September 17, 2015, there were 247 Republicans and 188 Democrats in Congress. Republicans hold the “right to bear arms” very close to their hearts, but why? Well, in order to stay in control of congress they need money, and the National Rifle Association provides a huge chunk of that. It's worth noting that the NRA is also currently being investigated for possibly violating political spending laws.
Do we have a chance of seeing gun laws change? Everytown For Gun Safety, a nonprofit pushing for gun control and was created to match the NRA in political influence, noted that President Obama can reform gun laws “by encouraging five relatively small changes to the way the federal and state governments interpret laws that are already on the books.” A recent New York Times article highlighted ways, besides sweeping changes that need clearance from Congress, that the government can start enforcing current laws and regulations:
- “The Justice Department should make it clear to law enforcement agencies that federal laws prohibiting gun purchases by anyone convicted of misdemeanor domestic abuse also apply in cases where an abuser is not married to the victim.”
- "Federal law enforcement agencies should notify local and state authorities when someone fails a background check because he or she is a felon or a convicted domestic abuser; the group says local authorities should be alerted when such a person tries — and fails — to buy a gun."
- "The federal government should also clarify the Gun-Free School Zones Act, which prohibits the possession of a gun within 1,000 feet of a school, the group writes. It was signed into law by President George Bush in 1990."
Unfortunately, this issue won't be solved anytime soon, let alone during the presidential elections, but at least the candidates are sort of talking about it. It seems the only time the gun debate comes into the spotlight is when people are shot and killed. The politicians and the NRA are not the ones crying on the news. It's the victims families who suffer the most and wonder, like the rest of us: When will this end?