The President did what he needed to do yesterday. He set the right tone for the seriousness of the gun control debate, from having students who had written to him about gun control as a backdrop to neatly bifurcating legislative action that he could take through executive order.
President Obama made history today by taking the most ambitious and aggressive action since 1968 and the tragic assassinations of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr.
Put simply, and there really is no two ways about it, America needs an assault weapons ban, a ban on high capacity magazines and a policy of universal background checks. And while it may well be that background checks will ultimately do more to stop gun violence than the other two, there is simply no argument in 21st century America for anyone to own an assault weapon or magazine clips that can fire more than 10 bullets in rapid succession.
On background checks, where there is broader public support, there is a simple principle that should be followed: any time that there is a private sale of a gun – be it at a gun show, gun store or between individuals – there must be a background check.
The President was also right to take non-controversial actions through executive orders that strengthened existing gun laws and update the databases of gun owners which already exist. Other executive orders such as providing law enforcement, first responders and school officials with proper training for active shooter situations as well as releasing a DOJ report analyzing information on lost and stolen guns and making it widely available to law enforcement are both valuable steps.
The challenge Joe Scarborough made on Morning Joe is a fair one: the Republican party needs to do something about gun violence.
While I do not believe that Republicans will necessarily go as far as the President wants them to, if we can’t get a green light on universal background checks it shows the bankruptcy of the system which we have seen during dealings on the fiscal cliff and the debt ceiling.
We are in a historic moment. The American people are demanding action as every poll since the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School has indicated. Now is the time to act and the President took an important first step yesterday.