For six-year-old Noah Pozner, President Obama’s action plan to reduce gun violence came 33 days too late. On December 14, 2012, deranged gunman Adam Lanza stormed Noah’s school, shot his way into his classroom and fired 11 bullets into his small body at close range. Noah was the youngest of Lanza’s 26 victims, and the first to be laid to rest.
For the first time since that terrible day, President Obama offered hope to the millions of Americans left numb and dumbfounded by yet another mass shooting. His main legislative proposals include what many would consider common-sense solutions: universal background checks on all gun sales nationwide, banning “military-style” assault weapons and setting a maximum limit of 10 rounds for ammunition magazines. He also proposed tougher penalties for gun trafficking.
But not everyone considers such action a step in the right direction. Shortly after the president unveiled his proposals, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio issued the following statement: “President Obama is targeting the 2nd Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens instead of seriously addressing the real underlying causes of such violence.” According to Republican Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas: “The right to bear arms is a right, despite President Obama’s disdain for the Second Amendment and the Constitution’s limits on his power.” Even more defiant was NRA president David Keene, who assured CNN’s Candy Crowley over the weekend that an assault weapons ban has virtually no chance of getting through Congress.
NRA president David Keene has a point. Gun control has never been popular with Congress. California Sen. Diane Feinstein’s assault weapons ban expired nearly a decade ago and her updated legislation attempting to renew it is languishing in the Senate. It doesn’t matter how many times President Obama or any politician reiterates their support of the Second Amendment: gun lobbyists will always try to convince voters that gun control means an automatic seizure of all guns.
But the tide is turning. Despite the fact that 45% of Americans live in a household with one or more firearms, support is growing for a shift in gun policy. According to the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 85% of Americans are in favor of background checks for gun sales, 55% support a ban on assault-style weapons while 67% support a federal database to track gun sales. However, it also turns out that many Americans also agree with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre; 64% support having armed guards in schools.
If there is anyone who deserves a seat at the table when it comes to crafting legislation on guns, it’s the victims of gun violence and their relatives. Former congresswoman Gabby Giffords—who was shot in the head by a deranged gunman while meeting with constituents in Tucson, AZ, two years ago—plans to personally lobby her former colleagues in Congress on gun legislation. Some are even dubbing her the “new Jim Brady”—gun control advocate and former White House Press Secretary under President Reagan who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt on the president.
The same day President Obama laid out his proposals for tackling gun violence, Emily Nottingham, the mother of Tucson shooting victim Gabe Zimmerman, testified at a Democratic Committee Hearing on gun violence in Washington. Zimmerman worked for Congresswoman Giffords and was shot dead by Jared Loughner on January 8, 2011.
“We have allowed ourselves to overemphasize gun rights to the detriment of other rights, including the most important , the right to be alive,” said Nottingham. “We have allowed our families to lose the feeling of safety at school, at their place of worship, at the movies…please do not be swayed by the line that the only way to combat a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun…I do not want to carry around an assault rifle to go to the grocery store to buy broccoli or take a grandchild to soccer practice.”