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President Obama on Gun Control in State of the Union

urlRecent massacres such as the Sandy Hook shooting in Newton and the “Dark Knight” shooting in Colorado have raised awareness on gun control in the United States. Liberals feel as if new laws should passed as to which kinds of guns are legal to sell. On the other hand, conservatives see to it that restricting which guns they own affects their Second Amendment right to bear arms. Despite the debate between parties,the country does recognize that something must be done to prevent such shootings in the future. Christina Wilikie’s article in the Huffington Post reports on President Obama’s State of the Union speech in which he addressed the issue of gun control in America.

To begin his assertion, President Obama stated that this is not the first time the United States has labeled gun control as a concern. In spite of this, he declared that the Newtown shooting in which 20 innocent children and 6 adults werekilled demands that subject must finally be dealt with accordingly:

“Overwhelming majorities of Americans -– Americans who believe in the 2nd Amendment — have come together around common-sense reform, like background checks that will make it harder for criminals to get their hands on a gun. Senators of both parties are working together on tough new laws to prevent anyone from buying guns for resale to criminals. Police chiefs are asking our help to get weapons of war and massive ammunition magazines off our streets, because they are tired of being outgunned.”

url-1One of the ways Obama is trying to manipulate gun control is by placing a ban on all military-style weapons, such as automatic weapons that carry extremely large magazines. However, the National Rifle Association feels as if their Second Amendment rights would be violated if such a law were passed. The Amendment clearly states, “the right of the people to keep and bear Arms shall not be infringed.” The text obviously supports that weapons can be possessed, but the argument arises from what the text does not say; there is no indication that all arms are legal, nor any sign that certain weapons are prohibited. The liberal side to this argument is that simple changes are eligible to be added that can simply imply restrictions to which arms can be owned. The flip side of the argument (the conservative side) cherish their right to own any weapon they please. As long as they pass the standard background checks, or even more intense improvements to the background checks, there is no reason they should be stripped of their assault rifles.

President Obama, being a liberal democrat, wishes to restrict the weapons that can be owned. The president’s point of view is clearly controversial, but through one speech, Obama “disarmed the argument… that no law can eliminate all gun violence,” Wilikie wrote. Obama was able to dismantle the opposing opinion and gain significant amounts of supporters by exploiting Neustadt’s theory of a president’s power to persuade. As Neustadt declared in his book “Presidential Power”, a president is able to use his “status and authority to yield bargaining advantages.” Obama, knowing he would have the nation’s full attention, focused the majority of his State of the Union speech on gun control. After addressing the issue at large and his solution, Obama made an emotional appeal about one of the many victims of gun violence:

“One of those we lost was a young girl named Hadiya Pendleton. She was 15 years old. She loved Fig Newtons and lip gloss. She was a majorette. She was so good to her friends, they all thought they were her best friend. Just three weeks ago, she was here, in Washington, with her classmates, performing for her country at my inauguration. And a week later, she was shot and killed in a Chicago park after school, just a mile away from my house.”

U.S. House Speaker Boehner and Vice President Biden stand to applaud as President Obama delivers his State of the Union speech on Capitol Hill in Washington

President Obama receives a standing ovation at the conclusion of his State of the Union Speech

Obama’s telling of Pendleton’s story was an excellent method of executing Neustadt’s theory. He enflamed emotions throughout the audience, which left people yearning for change. The touching anecdote resulted in a standing ovation and overwhelming support for Obama’s gun control bills. Through his words, he was able to convince his people that protecting the children is more important than owning a fancy gun.

While Obama’s State of the Union speech undoubtedly put pressure on Congress to vote on new gun control bills, the debate still fumes as a conclusion has yet to be reached. Meanwhile, the nation impatiently awaits a contentious resolution to the gun control issues that are plaguing many cities in the United States.

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