8 Disturbing Discoveries in Obama’s New Gun Control Plan
As many applauded the Obama administration and its newly unveiled gun control plan yesterday, I began actually reading the vapid proposal. While the 15-page report titled “Now is The Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence” does offer some important steps in decreasing gun violence, the plan, overall, is a very surface-level approach to gun violence.
Not surprised that our government wouldn’t address the root causes of gun violence? Me neither. But besides containing proposals that would only bandage the issue, the report also included some disturbing findings. Here’s a list of them:
1. No Director For the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (ATF)
In the report: “The ATF has not had a confirmed director for six years. There is no excuse for leaving the key agency enforcing gun laws in America without a leader.” For lack of better words, WTF?! The government organization in charge on imposing gun legislation was without an official director? For six years? Not only does this result in a lack of accountability, but it illustrates that the agency was surely not one of the government’s priorities.
The report states that they will work on getting Congress to confirm a director for the ATF.
2. ATF to Ensure Background Checks Via “Open Letter”
The report states that 40 percent of all gun sales are exempt from background checks because their sellers are private sellers. So how will the government ensure everyone who wants to buy a gun gets a proper background check? According to the report, “The ATF will send an open letter to licensed dealers giving them guidance on how best to facilitate these checks.” Foolproof, right?
3. Centers for Disease Control Can’t Talk Gun Control
The report reveals that, apparently, the Centers for Disease Control is banned from discussing gun control. It stated: “For years, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other scientific agencies have been barred by Congress from using funds to ‘advocate or promote gun control,’ and some members of Congress have claimed this prohibition also bans the CDC from conducting any research on the causes of gun violence.”
The report states that the administration will, from now on, see research on gun violence as critical public health research, not advocacy. It also states the President has issued a memorandum directing the CDC to conduct research into the causes and prevention of gun violence.
4. Justice Department to Try to Persuade States to Disclose Mental Health Records
The report admits that some states don’t want to disclose mental health records. So how will the government ensure that these records will be made available for background checks? Apparently, financial incentives and hope. The report states: “The Department of Justice will invest $20 million in FY 2013 to give states stronger incentives to make this data available.”
5. Fight Guns With More Guns
The report states: “The President is calling on Congress to act on the Administration’s $4 billion proposal to help keep 15,000 cops on the street in cities and towns across the country.” Of course, more people with guns to gun down people with guns will prevent gun violence … right?
6. Policing Schools
In the report, the administration calls for new “school resource officers” who are defined as “specially trained police officers that work in schools.” But having police officers present in school doesn’t make students feel safer, and it doesn’t prevent tragedies either. For example, there were two armed police officers on duty during the Columbine tragedy.
7. Only 1,000 Possible New School Counselors
Luckily, schools are able to determine what would make their schools safer — whether that is “school resource officers,” or school psychologists, counselors or social workers. If all schools are wise enough to choose the latter, the administration leaves this “help” poorly funded. Yup, the one part of the plan that is really key in stopping violence — more counselors that can deter bullying and offer therapy — is only receiving $150 million from the government, resulting in only 1,000 possible new school counselors. This is a joke considering there are more than 100,000 K-12 schools nationwide and thousands of universities. Meanwhile, they are spending $4 billion to keep 15,000 cops on the street.
8. The Only People We Need To Worry About Are the “Dangerous”
Last, but certainly not least, is the report’s disturbing insinuation that the only gun owners we need to be concerned about are those who are “dangerous.” After the report’s introduction, it opens with this: “Most gun owners buy their guns legally and use them safely … Yet too often, irresponsible and dangerous individuals have been able to easily get their hands on firearms. We must strengthen our efforts to keep guns from falling into the wrong hands.”
In fact, the report is so focused on “dangerous” folk, that the word appears in the 15-page report 11 times. Yet, this concept of ‘guns are okay as long as the right people have them’ is the center of the problem with gun control. There are people without mental health disease, who don’t play violent video games, but still cause violence with guns. Take, for example, the father who recently accidentally killed his 7-year-old son when his gun went off as he was getting in the car.
In addition, gun owners with no past mental illness history can just snap. Having the object readily available makes it easier for gun owners to cause violence. As Jason Whitlock wrote after Jovan Belcher, a Kansas City Chiefs linebacker, fatally shot his girlfriend and then himself: “Handguns do not enhance our safety. They exacerbate our flaws, tempt us to escalate arguments, and bait us into embracing confrontation rather than avoiding it.”
Therefore, the report reveals some disturbing, yet crucial information about how guns and gun laws are still viewed in the United States. Unfortunately, the country still doesn’t realize that guns — objects used solely to cause harm — will always cause harm, no matter who has them. That’s why the best parts of the plan are the actual weapon bans, such as the prohibition of assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.
But even more important than banning weapons is a focus on why people want guns in the first place. Perhaps when living in a society ingrained with power structures and struggles, weapons are a way to maintain power — and so nations and people cling to them. But if we lived in an equal and just world, I’m sure the desire for “protection” would cease to exist.