This is how we will be judged: saving our kids

By Bill Press

Tribune Media Services

As a member of the White House Press Corps, I’ve attended a lot of events at the White House. But none more moving or powerful than this week’s announcement by President Obama and Vice-President Biden of their plans to deal with gun violence.

In the front row were parents of first-graders killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Behind them sat Colin Goddard, one of the survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre. On stage were four kids who had written letters to the president after Sandy Hook, begging him to do something about guns. The force of their innocent words brought veteran reporters to tears: “I feel terrible for the parents who lost their children,” wrote third-grader Hinna. “I love my country, and I want everybody to be happy and safe.”

In his own remarks, the president spoke slowly and solemnly about the need for this country to seize the moment and take action, especially after the tragic murder of innocents in Newtown, Conn. “This is our first task as a society,” he said, “keeping our children safe. This is how we will be judged.”

But, the president pointed out, it wasn’t just the shock of mass murder scenes like Newtown and Aurora, Colo., that should prompt us to act. It’s the daily toll of senseless gun deaths in cities across the country. “In the month since 20 precious children and six brave adults were violently taken from us at Sandy Hook Elementary,” he reported, “more than 900 of our fellow Americans have reportedly died at the end of a gun — 900 in the past month.”

Then the president got to work. On the spot, he signed orders for 23 executive actions to help reduce gun violence, including more research on gun violence, helping schools hire more school resource officers, allowing doctors to report to law enforcement officials threats of violence by mentally ill patients, tightening the list of individuals prohibited from having a gun, and tougher prosecution of gun crimes.

At the same time, Obama challenged Congress to do its part by passing legislation to ban assault weapons, limit ammunition magazines to 10 rounds, outlaw civilian possession of armor-piercing bullets, and require criminal background checks for all gun sales, including those at gun shows or by private individuals.

Immediately, there were those predictable voices who accused the president of going too far. His efforts were branded as dictatorial and confiscatory. In fact, they are anything but. Obama did, indeed, put forth the most comprehensive package of gun control measures in decades. But what’s striking is how non-earth-shaking they really are. They’re just common sense.

Consider the top three: requiring a criminal background check for every gun purchase; keeping weapons of war off the streets; limiting magazines to 10 rounds (but not the number of 10-round magazines). Why should they be controversial at all? If we’re serious about keeping dangerous weapons out of the hands of dangerous people, how can any reasonable person oppose a background check at every point of sale? And nobody except gun manufacturers — or their paid henchmen, the NRA — could argue that our Founding Fathers wrote the Second Amendment to protect the right of some madman, using a mass murder weapon, to gun down 20 first-graders in 10 minutes in the year 2012.

Indeed, what’s most disturbing about President Obama’s plan is not that he went too far. It’s that America’s apparent fascination with guns prevents him from going far enough. For starters, why not treat guns like cars? Cars are not exactly lethal weapons, yet we still require everyone to register them, insure them, and get a license to operate them. Shouldn’t we do the same for guns?

And if we’re really serious about assault weapons, why not learn from Australia? After a gunman shot and killed 35 people in 1996, Australia not only banned the possession and use of new assault rifles, it sponsored a federal buy-back program under which, according to former Australian Prime Minister John Howard, almost 700,000 guns (the equivalent of 40 million guns in the U.S.) were purchased and destroyed. Australia has not experienced one single gun massacre since.

So let the gun nuts rant and rave about government overkill. They’ve got it backward. After all the mass killings with guns we’ve experienced in recent years, the real question is not why are we doing so much — but why do we even have to debate about doing so little?

© 2013 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

10 Responses to This is how we will be judged: saving our kids

  1. Once again your stupidity astounds me Bill.

    Did anyone ask Obama if he shed a tear for the 1000s of children who were aborted during the same time frame?
    Did anyone ask Obama why, if he claims we need to do what ever we can to save one life, he did nothing to help those who were murdered in Benghazi?

    The ‘treat guns like cars’ argument is silly Bill. You got your panties handed back to you last time you tried this line of reasoning.
    Since I can own any kind of car I want and as many cars as I want, operate them on private property without the need for insurance and registration, then yes, treating firearms like cars would be good.
    Of course the ‘registration’ issue is moot. Car registration is purely for taxation purposes. You cannot tax a ‘right’ like the 2nd Amendment. If you don’t believe this then we should immediately reinstate the poll taxes and keep the dimwits (most liberals) away from voting.

    Messing with our rights is what cost the democrats control of the federal government back in the 90’s. I’d love to see that happen again.

  2. So, it’s ok to murder and massacre little children with a high-powered gun, but not ok to end a pregnancy (no it’s not born yet) – where the mother has a CLEAR CHOICE???? Those children in Newtown had NO CHOICE. Think again, quit listening to the “trolls” at faux news and start reading.

    Thank you.

  3. “requiring a criminal background check for every gun purchase”-Bill, how can you support such a racist requirement? A firearm background check requires a government ID. You know, the same ID that you told us it was racist to require for voting. I guess when it comes to guns it’s ok to be a racist.
    “keeping weapons of war off the streets”-That’s funny. Especially when you consider that your assualt weapons ban will keep assualt weapons off the streets a battle rifle will still be legal as will an AK12 and many others just like it. Oh, and in your quest to save lives you might, on a bad year lower the murder rate from 13000 to 12950. If you cared about lives you would be much more concerned about addressing why people commit these horrible crimes than you are about assualt rifles. The weapon is just the means to an end for these people. We need to figure out why they think that ends is justifiable in their minds. If you don’t you can ban all the guns you want, they’ll just find another means. So is this about saving lives or taking away rights from law abiding citizens.

  4. Bill could save more lives by just disappearing. Think of all the heads that explode daily trying to comprehend his logic and thought processes….

  5. The irony is too sweet: while Obama is trying to take guns out the hands of law-obeying American citizens – you know, those of us that are clinging to our guns and Bibles – his AG, Eric Holder, is refusing to comply with FOIA requests related to Fast and Furious, that great Obama administration plan that put guns into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels ultimately responsible for killing hundreds of people including a US border patrol agent.

  6. I read through all 23 executives order, and I did’t see one mention of how they are planning to take guns out of the hands of criminals. Isn’t that the ultimate purpose of gun control? Or am I missing something here?

  7. marion no one said it is ‘ok to murder and massacre little children with a high-powered gun’. It’s unfortunate that you have blinders on and read it that way. The point is that if you are going to take away a right from the citizenry then you better have a pretty compelling reason with definitive outcomes. While preventing the deaths of our children is a compelling enough reason all of the proposals mentioned will not provide the desired outcome. In fact VP Biden himself said that these proposals would not prevent another Sandy Hook which leads one to ask why then? Keep in mind that if you eliminate all murders caused by rifles (to include assualt rifles) you’ll reduce our overall murder rate by 3.8%! Maybe you don’t care about the other 96% of the people killed by objects other than assualt rifles?
    What’s also disappointing is that the left seems to only care about our children when it’s convenient. The latest statistics show that 180 children under the age of 11 were killed by guns last year (less than 50 by assualt weapons). At the same time 700 were drowned in our nations swimming pools. With over 200 million guns in our country and only 8.6 million pools your child is much more likely to be killed in your pool then by a gun. Should we ban pools? Over 75000 americans die in alcohol related deaths each year. 211 children under the age of 14 die from alcohol related car accidents. Should we ban alcohol? We tried this banning thing before and found it doesn’t work so well. Last I checked cocaine, crack and meth are banned in this country yet people still use them, many of them minors and all of them criminals.
    Remember that Switzerland has 4.5 million guns in circulation. 420,000 assualt rifles provided to it’s citizenry by the government and only 24 gun murders in 2009. Perhaps instead of blaming an inanimate object and trying to achieve a political objective and looked for the root cause we might actually be able to save many lives instead of a few?

  8. Off topic but more left wing hypocrisy at work: Do as we say not as we do should be the new progressive slogan!

    Al Gore earns $29 million in shares with Apple stock options

    Past Vice President Al Gore has become wealthier than ever now that he has left politics. On Jan. 19, 2013, Trade the Forex reported, Al Gore?s Apple Stock Options Earn Him $29 Million In Shares. This week Gore bought roughly $29 million worth of Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) stock for pennies against the dollar, making him wealthier than ever. The huge cash in on Apple stock options for Al Gore has followed his recent $100 million profit from the sale of Current TV network.

    Eric Brown has also reported on Gore’s recent business interests with Apple for the International Business Times, Al Gore’s Apple Stock Options Earn Him $29 Million In Shares. A U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Form 4 which was filed on Thursday shows Gore exercised his option as an Apple director to purchase 59,000 shares of the company for $7.475 a share on Tuesday. On Friday Apple closed at $500 per share. This all means Gore paid $441,025 for Apple stock which is now worth $29.5 million.

    This has not been the first time Gore has exercised his option to buy Apple stock at bargain prices. It has been reported he purchased 60,000 shares of the company for the same price in 2008, at which time Apple was trading for about $124 per share. And Gore’s wealth may soar even more with analysts predicting Apple’s share price may rise higher in response to the company’s release of its quarterly earnings reports on Tuesday.

  9. That SOB Gore, hasnt anyone told him that all of the money on the planet belongs to the republicans?
    I personally dont have time to count ev1 elses money……being so busy counting my own.

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