Obama Promises to Use 'Whatever Power' Against Gun Violence
Hazel Trice Edney | , Special to Informer | 12/18/2012, 4:10 p.m.
On Friday morning, Dec. 14, most Americans were either contemplating last minute Christmas gifts or deeply involved in a divisive debate over how to avoid the fiscal cliff. Then suddenly, the nation found itself united in grief, joined by people around the world.
They were responding to the unthinkable act that has brought the nation to its knees at Christmas time and caused the President to cry. That is when 20 children and seven women at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., were brutally murdered - all shot multiple times - by a 20-year-old gunman who then killed himself.
"The majority of those who died today were children - beautiful little kids between the ages of 5 and 10 years old. They had their entire lives ahead of them - birthdays, graduations, weddings, kids of their own. Among the fallen were also teachers - men and women who devoted their lives to helping our children fulfill their dreams," President Obama detailed the tragedy as tears streaked his face in the White House Press Room Dec. 14.
"As a nation, we have endured far too many of these tragedies in the last few years," he continued on his Weekly Radio Address that evening. "An elementary school in Newtown. A shopping mall in Oregon. A house of worship in Wisconsin. A movie theater in Colorado. Countless street corners in places like Chicago and Philadelphia. Any of these neighborhoods could be our own. So we have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this. Regardless of the politics."
Political observers have described the Sandy Hook massacre as a "tipping point" for President Obama and Congress to finally discuss the gun control issue as well as mental health issues.
It is clear by his words that this incident will be the impetus to action. Speaking at an Inter-faith Prayer Vigil in Newtown Sunday night, he promised to take swift action.
"In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens - from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators - in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can't accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we're powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?"
Gun lobbies, including the politically powerful National Rifle Association, will no doubt oppose new gun laws, giving their usual argument for the Second Amendment and that it is people - not guns - that kill people. Still others will argue that the key is keeping the guns out of the hands of the mentally ill. It is not clear what affect new gun laws could have on the homicides in city streets that's killed hundreds of thousands since the FBI started counting homicides in the early 1970s.