Editor-in-Chief and A&E Editor
The always-controversial issue of gun control is in the spotlight yet again as mass shootings in San Bernardino, California and Paris, France have started another dialogue on the right to bear arms. The topic was discussed at the most recent Republican and Democratic national debates, and now President Barack Obama is planning to introduce new gun control laws using executive action this week.
The new actions taken by the White House will simultaneously increase enforcement of gun laws and expand background checks. They will also aim to avoid loopholes that allow for dealers to avoid background checks. They will prevent online weapons dealers from selling weapons without obtaining licenses and information from buyers, and they will also force sellers at gun shows to conduct checks. This will end the “gun show loophole,” which has allowed people to buy firearms at large gun shows without undergoing background checks.
In the wake of these tragic shootings, many are calling for more extensive control on weapons or even a complete ban on firearms. However, there is a large and vocal group of people saying that more gun control is not the solution and that it would violate the second amendment. Some of the most outspoken gun advocates come from the Republican Party, with many leading candidates saying that Obama’s plan for executive action is a step too far. Donald Trump, who is currently leading in the Republican polls, claims that “Gun and magazine bans are a total failure,” and has recently said that Obama’s push for gun safety is “...another step in the way of not getting guns.” Republican frontrunner Ted Cruz also is against extensive gun control and has said in the past that, “We don’t stop the bad guys by taking away our guns.” Currently, as the White House continues to work over its new gun control measures, Cruz is raffling off an engraved shotgun on his campaign website.
Meanwhile, the Democratic Party has only strengthened its gun safety beliefs in the past months. Hillary Clinton has made the issue a key part of her platform, and she has supported Obama’s executive decision. Throughout her campaign, Clinton has repeated that “comprehensive background checks” are key to stopping gun violence in the United States. Democratic nominee Bernie Sanders has also come out in favor of Obama’s stance on the matter, saying that, “The vast majority of the American people are horrified by the mass shootings we have seen. They want action.”
Politicians are not the only ones debating the merits of gun control. Virtually all major news sources, from The New York Times and CNN to Fox News, have come out with editorials about the issue. People are extremely passionate about the topic, making it even harder to come to a consensus. The clear need for less gun violence is conflicting with the deeply ingrained American belief that guns are a right and not a privilege, and these new executive actions may significantly alter how the nation handles firearms.