On Tuesday, President Obama held a press conference at the White House to give further details on his plans to use his executive power to bring forth new gun control measures -- measures he hopes will stop future first graders from being shot and killed at school. As he spoke, tears flowed down his face.
Though the address wasn't entirely somber -- there were several jokes lobbed -- the president peaked, making his speech sound more like a social activists call to action rather than a reasoned president who understands that sometimes bad people do bad things, thus breaking laws already in place. He added that even though Second Amendment rights are important, the right to not be shot while watching Batman is, too.
"Second Amendment rights are important. But there are other rights we care about, as well, and we have to be able to balance them," Obama said.
Then, embodying Martin Luther King's words asking America to recognize "the fierce urgency of now," Obama's pitch rose sharply, "Because our right to worship freely and safely, that right was denied to Christians in Charleston, South Carolina. And that was denied Jews in Kansas City. And that was denied Muslims in Chapel Hill, and Sikhs in Oak Creek. They had rights, too."
Bringing the crowd to its feet, Obama continued:
Our right to peaceful assembly, that right was robbed from movie goers in Aurora and Lafayette. Our unalienable right to life and liberty and the pursuit of happiness, those rights were stripped from college kids in Blacksburg and Santa Barbara. And from high schoolers at Columbine.
Then Obama's mood shifted, as the tears began to flow:
And from first graders in Newtown… first graders.
And from every family who never imagined that their loved one would be taken from our lives by a bullet from a gun -- every time I think about those kids, it gets me mad. And by the way, it happens on the streets of Chicago every day.
So, here are Obama's measures he says "can't wait." These are also measures he knows won't save everybody, "but we can save some." They are fourfold:
- Any one selling a gun, whether at a store, at gun shows, or online, must obtain a license and conduct background checks.
- Funding for 200 new ATF agents to enforce gun laws and to track illegal online gun trafficking.
- $500 million expansion to mental health treatment under Obamacare, as well as Federal reporting of mental health records for background checks.
- Expand development of firearm safety technology in the form of smart guns. (As Obama said in his speech, if we can use fingerprint technology on phones, why not guns. Or if a child is unable to open an aspirin bottle, why can't we make sure they can't pull the trigger of a gun?)