Many wondered why, in the immediate aftermath of the Tucson shooting, gun control didn’t immediately leap to the of the agenda. Question the timing, but apparently, now it has.
It’s been more than two months since the tragedy in Tucson stunned the nation. It was a moment when we came together as one people to mourn and to pray for those we lost. And in the attack’s turbulent wake, Americans by and large rightly refrained from finger-pointing, assigning blame or playing politics with other people’s pain.
But one clear and terrible fact remains. A man our Army rejected as unfit for service; a man one of our colleges deemed too unstable for studies; a man apparently bent on violence, was able to walk into a store and buy a gun.
He used it to murder six people and wound 13 others. And if not for the heroism of bystanders and a brilliant surgical team, it would have been far worse.
But since that day, we have lost perhaps another 2,000 members of our American family to gun violence. Thousands more have been wounded. We lose the same number of young people to guns every day and a half as we did at Columbine, and every four days as we did at Virginia Tech.
Every single day, America is robbed of more futures. It has awful consequences for our society. And as a society, we have a responsibility to do everything we can to put a stop to it.
The President tempers this language of immediacy with a clear statement that, “like the majority of Americans,” he believes “the Second Amendment guarantees an individual right to bear arms,”and a reminder that the Administration has in fact expanded gun rights, before launching into a preemptive defense of his position, and the issue’s importance:
I know that every time we try to talk about guns, it can reinforce stark divides. People shout at one another, which makes it impossible to listen. We mire ourselves in stalemate, which makes it impossible to get to where we need to go as a country. [. . .]
I know some aren’t interested in participating. Some will say that anything short of the most sweeping anti-gun legislation is a capitulation to the gun lobby. Others will predictably cast any discussion as the opening salvo in a wild-eyed scheme to take away everybody’s guns. And such hyperbole will become the fodder for overheated fundraising letters.
Obama’s PR team, it seems, has finally learned that any action this administration takes will be met with hostility, branded radicalism, and lost within the first Fox news cycle, due to a counter-messaging operation bent on convincing the country of their president’s other-ness. But despite (or because of) this reflexively anti-administration kick, President Obama remains the only side of the spectrum capable of talking to the middle, and advocating moderation. I welcome this new policy initiative both on its own merits, and as a proxy war for that proposition.