By Paul Helmke
In our country’s history, our most successful presidents demonstrated that the best way to honor and secure our principles was to back them with the force of law.
When L.B.J. wanted to pay homage to John F. Kennedy and to secure the right of African-Americans to “flourish”, he did it with the force of law.
When Bill Clinton wanted to honor Jim Brady and reduce the numbers of those victimized by gun violence, he did it by pushing for the passage of the Brady Law.
Just last June, when Barack Obama said the “time had come to put politics aside and fix America’s broken immigration system,” he meant to fix it with a new law.
So how can President Obama tell us in his State of the Union speech tonight that “the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that all deserve the chance to be fulfilled,” without talking about the gun violence that destroyed those dreams?
It wasn’t the lack of innovation, education, or investment, too many regulations or too much debt that ended Christina’s life and her dreams — it was a clearly dangerous man who had way too easy access to a gun with a high-capacity ammunition magazine – good only for killing many people quickly. We need the president to push for laws to reduce the gun violence that shattered Tucson, and Christina’s family, and that shatters the lives of more than 100,000 Americans every year.
President Obama tonight failed to ‘challenge old assumptions’ on the need for, and political possibilities of, reducing the gun violence – which he suggested should be done two weeks ago in Tucson. He failed to recognize the power of our laws to set us on a course to reduce gun violence. We are disappointed, but we’re also determined to continue our efforts to help make our nation safer by pushing to strengthen our gun laws.
We need the president’s support now for changes in our laws to ban large capacity ammunition magazines, to tighten restrictions on who can legally purchase a gun, and to require effective background checks before these guns can be purchased.
We’re calling on all Americans to contact the president and their members of Congress; tell them to stand up to the gun lobby and pass the common sense laws that will help keep us safer.