Gun Control Debate: Is Obama Exploiting Sandy Hook for Political Gain?


President Obama put the pressure on lawmakers today, in an attempt to encourage passage of a Senate gun control package. The legislative package will likely be voted on next month and includes penalties for straw purchases and expanded background checks. The president gave his remarks in front of victims' family members, who have lost their children to gun violence, prompting some outrage among guns rights activists and Fox News. Apparently, both groups would prefer individuals remain ignorant of the human toll of gun violence. 

Fox believes that Obama is just trying to shame Congress into action by using fear and emotion based appeals. It’s a funny criticism coming from an organization founded upon those exact principals, but I digress. President Obama, standing in front of mothers who have lost children to guns, is not going to change the gun debate one way or the other. All of us are well aware that these moments are little more than stage craft, but each of those people desires to be there. They want to be seen next to the president fighting for a cause they believe in. 

The conservative leaning news channel also thinks Obama gave this remarks to scare Americans back into the way they felt directly after the Sandy Hook massacre. CNN conducted a poll, so take this as you take any CNN poll, that said that older Americans and those living in rural areas are less supportive of gun control measures than they were a few months ago. In other news, the Earth is round. Support for gun control measures has never been strong among those two groups anyway, as they are less likely to be victims of gun violence.

Speaking to members of the press, Obama said:

One hundred days ago that happened, the entire country was shocked. The entire country pledged we would do something about it. Shame on us if we've forgotten. I haven't forgotten those kids. Shame on us if we've forgotten.

We need everybody to remember how we felt 100 days ago and make sure that what we said at that time wasn't just a bunch of platitudes — that we meant it ( ... ) We have cried enough. We have known enough heartbreak, Now is the time to turn that heartbreak into something real.

President Obama was not only reminding Americans but reminding members of Congress that many of them made a pledge. That pledge was to do something about gun violence in America. Those not directly effected by the tragedy of Sandy Hook have likely moved on with our lives. For the parents that lost children or family members in the massacre, it was only 100 days ago that their lives were changed forever. Is it wrong to remind individuals of this? To remind them that promises made should be made because you intend on keeping them, not because they are politically expedient. No, it isn't wrong.

Obama’s detractors, however, never miss an opportunity to point out a perceived flaw. The president has reminded Congress to do its job many times, these kinds of statements from the White House are nothing new. He isn’t the first president to make remarks like this and he certainly won’t be the last. The issue of gun control is emotionally charged, there will never be a discussion about gun control that isn't. I'd rather forgo pretending that either side is capable of having an emotionless discussion about guns and come to the table to have a sensible, rational discussion. Which was all the president was calling for today.