Watters: Gun control simply not issue this election

Arabella Watters, Assistant Forum Editor

The American people seem to have an inability to embrace modernity. Particularly glaring is our inaction with regards to strict gun control legislation. The three presidential debates have come and gone and still nothing substantial on gun control has been proposed. This should be a bigger issue than it is.

I understand that President Barack Obama faced a major obstacle these past four years. Our president faced a Republican majority in the House, which basically means his appeals would have fallen on deaf ears. I concede it would have been very difficult for President Obama to pass anything that declared war on the Second Amendment. Both he and Mitt Romney have stated their support for the right to bear arms. Unfortunately, the Second Amendment was written when militia ran rampant and the most fearsome firearm was a manually loaded musket. Our country is moving forward, and the Second Amendment is an anachronistic piece of the Constitution that’s tying us down. Americans obviously don’t have the discretion or judgment to figure out when they should and shouldn’t fire high powered assault weapons. I don’t think equality has any place in gun ownership. The bottom line should be about safety, and as long as anyone who wants to is able to hold a weapon, we simply aren’t safe.

Given Romney’s penchant for flip-flopping, I expected no less, but from Obama I’m disappointed. As a president who has been in office for some of the most violent public shootings in the history of our country, he has done a disgustingly little amount to remedy the problem. Instead, in 2010, Obama overturned 94 years of National Park Service policy that prevented visitors from carrying concealed weapons and overturned a 10-year precedent that prevented Amtrak passengers from carrying concealed weapons in their checked baggage. Obama isn’t sanctioning automatic assault weapons or endorsing the National Rifle Association, but he isn’t doing anything in the opposite direction either. I expected more.

Sure, during the Hofstra debate , Obama stated that he supported a ban on automatic assault weapons. I truly hoped that he would favor this ban, seeing how, in 1999, in an interview with the Chicago Independent Bulletin, President Obama gave the impression that he had a hard line stance on gun control.  Before the millennium, Barack Obama was inexperienced and relatively unknown, and he didn’t need to worry about appeasing voters. President Obama simply wanted to rid the streets of Chicago and wider America of a problem that was taking far too many lives. This Obama prescribed an increase of federal taxes on the sale of firearms, restriction of purchasing abilities, increased funding for school anger management programs and a ban at firearms sales at gun shows. As Obama rose in political stature and visibility, his policy on gun control became more and more diluted. Nevertheless, by the time he was running for president in 2008, Obama was still running as a supporter of gun control.

However, despite seeming to support a national policy, as soon as President Obama took office, all precedence of making a change for stronger gun control went out the window. I can easily remember in 2011, after the mass shooting in Tucson, Ariz., how slighted I felt when President Obama gave his State of the Union Address with absolutely no inclination that a firmer policy on gun control would be created. In fact, the issue wasn’t even addressed beyond a brief condolence for the victims and their families. I hate that I have the sinking feeling that despite the violence that has continued this summer, the Obama administration will do next to nothing in enacting legislation to turn things around. I understand that even an assault rifle ban might not be able to prevent the horrific violence that we saw in Aurora this summer, but at least it sends a message: The American government does not tolerate this kind of violence. I’m not asking for strict gun control because I know it’s not realistic; all I’m asking is for the Obama administration to at least try.

Arabella Watters is a Medill sophomore. She can be reached at [email protected]. If you would like to respond publicly to this column, email a Letter to the Editor to [email protected].