Three cheers for President Barack Obama and for Vice President Joe Biden.
Biden and his task force on gun violence deserve kudos for coming up with a list of comprehensive methods that will decrease violent deaths and horrible injuries due to guns in the hands of deranged people.
Obama has earned our thanks for adopting Biden’s suggestions. He also deserves our full support. In fact, these recommendations – all of them – should have been initiated a long, long time ago.
Who can deny assault rifles are nothing more than people-killing devices. They have absolutely nothing to do with hunting, and those who claim they are vital for home defense are truly clutching at straws. The arrogant attitudes from the NRA’s upper echelons must be countered vigorously by the use of common sense, rationality and facts. And the most appalling fact is assault weapons have been used all too often by unstable people who try to solve their problems or vent their anger by slaughtering other people. One important thing Obama should have stressed but did not is the importance of strengthening anti-bullying programs in all schools.
Those who defend any and all rights to possess any gun persist in a feeble argument that guns don’t kill people and that nothing can stop unbalanced people set upon a path of destruction. Yes, it’s quite true we cannot stop all violence, but banning assault weapons and starting up a buy-back program, like Australia did with great success, would be a huge step in the right direction.
Other Biden-Obama recommendations are equally as important, and all of them dovetail into one another: strict, universal background checks (no exceptions for gun shows), limitations to high-capacity ammunition clips, increased penalties for those who buy a gun for someone else while pretending it’s for them, a $4 billion proposal to keep 15,000 police officers on the streets, more training for first responders and school officials and hugely beefing up mental-health help in schools and elsewhere. Those will require legislative approval.
However, Obama can issue at least two dozen executive orders that deal with everything from increasing penalties for gun violations to improving ways to share state-to-state information about background checks, from starting national gun-safety training programs to a variety of ways to extend and strengthen mental-health programs and access to them for those in desperate need.
It will be an uphill battle to pass any laws, especially the one banning assault rifles. Instead of bucking those proposals, the NRA leadership should welcome them. Those people who insist the Second Amendment is an anything-goes, absolute right are not only wrong, they suffer from a willful form of blindness.
How many more massacres with assault weapons will have to happen until the NRA wakes up to the light of decency and enlightenment? We the people can defeat gun extremists, but to that we must pressure our legislators strongly to approve Obama’s recommendations.
Dalman was born and raised in South St. Cloud, graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School, then graduated from St. Cloud State University with a degree in English (emphasis on American and British literature) and mass communications (emphasis on print journalism). He studied in London, England for a year (1980-81) where he concentrated on British literature, political science, the history of Great Britain and wrote a book-length study of the British writer V.S. Naipaul. Dalman has been a reporter and weekly columnist for more than 30 years and worked for 16 of those years for the Alexandria Echo Press.