As President Obama signed 23 Executive Orders for gun control, the ink was barely dry before the NRA started attacking the President and his daughters. The NRA’s new ad says that President Obama’s daughters have armed guards to take them to school. The ad implies that armed guards and armed teachers are a better approach rather than limiting or prohibiting certain guns. When I see inflammatory comments aimed at the President’s daughters like this, it makes me wonder if there is any level too low to stoop for the NRA. The NRA obviously knows that the first daughters need Secret Service protection. Even more amazing is the belief among many gun owners that President Obama intends to take away all guns from law abiding gun owners. Many envision a society like Nazi Germany where instead of going to homes to search for Jews, we will be routinely searching homes for illegal guns. Then there’s the irrational belief that limiting assault weapons or magazine capacity will do nothing to eliminate gun violence. I think all will agree that the gun violence problem permeating our society is more multi- dimensional than decreasing assault weapons, high magazine capacity and background checks. But this is a start in the right direction. Mental health issues, gangs and poverty are some other reasons associated with gun violence crimes. And to do nothing means nothing will change. We’ve got to start somewhere.
Both Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner and even Democratic Senator Harry Reid do not seem poised to make in- roads with gun control legislation. And President Obama wants to rely on help from the American people to get gun legislation passed. The polls suggest that over 50% of Americans want some type of gun control. Gun control advocates support will not be enough to get any meaningful legislation passed. Somehow, I don’t think America has reached its lowest low in order to combat gun violence. No, I don’t think the killing of 20 school children at Sandy Hook elementary will be enough to get it passed without a very strong outcry among us. The Newtown Connecticut killings are a tipping point. But I sadly fail to see how it will be enough given our divided and dysfunctional government leaders. And if our legislators won’t legislate, unfortunately I fail to see how it will pass.
Our government is one of the people, by the people and for the people. Yet, many people in this country do not fully understand the power of their collective numbers in engaging in citizen outreach to their legislators. Few have ever contacted their representative for any matter. And many have no intention of contacting their legislator on gun control. Without aggressive and massive support from constituents, gun legislation is not as likely to pass.
The gun issue is one that may pass in many State houses across the country like in New York. Maryland is another state that will take up a gun bill. I am sure there will be others. Many state prosecutors and mayors are behind the gun legislation. I see gun control having a better chance of passing in states on a piece meal basis. Our federal legislators are too busy worried about losing their jobs to do anything meaningful with gun control this year- despite what the polls may say.
I don’t know what action it will take for our national legislators to begin the process of passing meaningful gun control legislation. But unfortunately I don’t think we’ve seen it yet. Hopefully, I’m wrong in my assessment.
Debbie Hines is a former prosecutor and founder of LegalSpeaks, a progressive blog on women and race in law and politics. As a legal and political commentator she has appeared in national, international and local media including the Michael Eric Dyson Show, local NBC, ABC and CBS affiliates, RT TV, CBC- Canadian TV and XM Sirius radio. Her works have appeared in the Baltimore Sun, Washington Post, Washington Times, CNN and NPR, among others. She also contributes articles to the Huffington Post and the Women’s Media Center.