Blame Congress

Federal lawmakers are the ones responsible for the proliferation of gun violence

Following President Obama’s recent executive order addressing gun violence, Republican lawmakers and NRA propagandists went straight to pointing out that it would not have stopped most of the high-profile mass shootings in the United States in recent years.

They note, for example, that Adam Lanza slayed 20 children at a public school in Newtown, Conn., in 2012, after murdering his own mother and taking her legally purchased guns. Same goes for Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik, who killed 14 people during a holiday party in San Bernardino last month. The couple got the rifles they used from a friend who’d purchased them legally.

That may be true, but it doesn’t mean the president’s policy will not help keep guns out of the hands of people who ought not own them. Fact is, what the president is calling for will make it more difficult for criminals and mentally unstable people to purchase guns. That’s because it helps to close a loophole that exempts certain gun sellers from conducting background checks on prospective buyers.

The president also plans to hire hundreds of examiners to vet the backlog of background checks. That’s a key piece considering the case of Dylann Roof, who had an arrest that should have prohibited him from purchasing the firearm he used to kill nine parishioners of the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C., last summer. Roof got his hands on a gun due to a delay in processing his background check.

The truth is, the president’s executive actions do not go nearly far enough to mitigate the rampant gun violence in this country. Doing something substantive would require action on the part of a Do Nothing Congress that rejects any sort of commonsense legislation—including requiring federal background checks universally for gun sales—under the guise that it violates the Second Amendment and is a step toward federal gun confiscation. Lawmakers know that’s a ridiculous notion, but saying so would run counter to the irrational fears of gun fanatics who keep these feckless politicians in office.

If a majority of Americans favor stricter gun laws—and polls show that they do—we need new leadership in Washington.