Photo by: Nick Conley
President Obama signed 23 executive orders last Wednesday to promote gun safety in the United States. Additionally, he reinstated the ban on assault weapon originally passed by former President Bill Clinton.
“While there is no law or set of laws that can prevent every senseless act of violence completely, no piece of legislation that will prevent every act of tragedy, every act of evil, if there is even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there is even one life that can be saved, we’ve got an obligation to do it,” Obama said during the signing of his orders.
Professor of Theology at Oklahoma Christian University William Kooi said that Christians, apart from others, should understand these new regulations.
“I’m not happy with child sacrifice,” Kooi said. “I’m not going to sit around and say that Second Amendment rights, which are very much a matter of debate as to what those rights actually are, are worth children dying for. [Gun activists] want to claim that they’re right to carry a gun is worth these massacres that we’ve been having. I will not, I cannot, accept that attitude coming from Christians.”
Kooi said that what he thinks Christians should feel about this has everything to do with protecting the weakest people in our society, and that that obligation is embedded in the Old Testament.
Though no specific group was addressed in making these orders, Obama referred to the executive orders as “common-sense measures.” These orders require no form of Congressional approval, according to LiveScience, a branch of Fox News.
Obama included in his executive orders a memo to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to immediately renew its gun research program. The research program was cancelled in the 1990s when Congress updated the budget appropriations legislation, refusing federal money for gun advocate or promotion reasons. Obama will push Congress to add $10 million to the budget for the CDC to fund extensive gun research.
According to GunCite, a firearm information service, “A genuine assault weapon, as opposed to a legal definition, is a hand-held, selective fire weapon, which means it is capable of firing in either an automatic or a semiautomatic mode depending on the position of a selector switch.”
The definition was updated in 1994 by the Clinton administration for the first “assault weapons ban”.
The new definition states that for a rifle to be considered an assault weapon it must have a detachable magazine and two or more of the following: a telescoping stock, bayonet mount, grenade launcher, flash suppressor or a pistol grip.
A shotgun must have a telescoping stock, pistol grip or the ability to hold six or more rounds. Handguns must have a threaded barrel (for attaching an extender), flash suppressor, barrel shroud able to be used as a handhold or weigh more than 50 ounces when unloaded.
Obama said in his speech announcing the new gun laws that he would like Congress to demand background checks for anyone buying a gun, whether it is from licensed or private firearm dealers. Additionally, Obama called for all high-capacity magazines (magazines capable of holding more than 10 rounds) to be banned.
This high-capacity magazine ban will not remove current products from the market, but will prohibit any production of such items in the future. This particular act securred a place in the “5 Milestones in Gun Control History” list.
Senior Ryder Dale Walton said that the majority of deaths by firearm in the U.S. are by handguns, so the purpose of these laws is not completely clear. He also mentioned that limiting the number of rounds to 10, or seven in the case of New York, is less than half of what some handguns hold.
As far as monetary involvement goes, funding for armed police officers in schools, school emergency preparedness planning and school counselors will be increased. In addition, Obama said he plans to grant law enforcement officials more freedom when seeking out what he called “straw buyers,” which are individuals who buy firearms with intent to resell them to people who are not legally allowed to possess a firearm.
Obama said that saving the lives of the innocent should be the goal and the outcome of passing these laws, but some citizens claim that placing restrictions on firearms might not be the best solution.
According to the CDC, all homicide (not only homicide by firearm) is ranked 15th in the top 15 causes of death in the country. Heart disease is number one, followed by cancer, stroke, chronic lung disease, accidents, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, influenza and pneumonia, nephritis/kidney disease, blood poisoning, suicide, liver disease, hypertension and Parkinson’s disease, respectively.
“If Obama is truly concerned about reducing the number of deaths in the U.S., he should ban swimming,” senior Rebecca Hobbes said. “More people die annually from drowning than they do from gun violence, and that is with Columbine, Aurora and Sandy Hook combined. You have to ask yourself, are they really concerned more with death, or with the public opinion generated by this frenzy? Mass shootings are rare.”
Sophomore Caleb Eggleston said that the media and public opinion are playing a vital role in this situation.
“The media is using incidents like Connecticut to emphasize the need for gun control,” Eggleston said. “[The media] never mention situations where a person with a concealed carry weapon took down a mall shooter before anyone could be hurt. The media will never tell us about it because they don’t want to admit that weapons really do save peoples’ lives.”
Walton, whose parents own a gun store, said that passing these laws increases firearm and accessory sales, especially in the items being banned.
“Barack Obama is good for the gun business,” Walton said. “People are not worried about buying a whole bunch of guns because a bunch of people got shot. We buy guns because Barack Obama put his face on the TV and said something about gun control. It’s a supply and demand thing… prices of guns are going to go up. Everybody has to go buy this stuff before you can’t buy it anymore.”
Walton continued to say than many gun fanatics are collectors and purchase firearms because they never lose their value.
Sophomore Caleb Henry said he is completely against the new orders.
“Any step toward gun control is a step in the wrong direction,” Henry said. “It is only leading us closer to complete gun control.”