by Mahogany Waldon
President Obama issued an executive order on gun control laws and a plan to expand mental healthcare access in the U.S. on Tuesday, Jan 5. The order comes in light of the recent San Bernardino shooting in December. According to ABC, the U.S. has seen a three-fold increase in mass shootings since 2000.
In a press conference, President Obama outlined that, under the order, anyone who sells firearms must be licensed and perform background checks on buyers. Along with the long expected decision on background checks, the order will also require more ATF agents to be hired and for individuals who possess guns to report when their firearms are lost or stolen.
The president is also committed to devoting $500 million to expand mental healthcare in an effort to lessen mass shootings and suicides. The funding will also be used to increase programming for gun safety innovations in technology. The Promoting Smart Gun technology memorandum released to the Spartan Echo by the White House states that “The Department of Defense, the Department of Justice, and the Department of Homeland Security shall, to the extent practicable and permitted by law, conduct or sponsor research into gun safety technology.”
While fighting back tears and letting a few fall, President Obama voiced his commitment to the issue of gun violence and legislation backing tighter gun control laws.
“It won’t happen overnight, but just because it’s hard, that’s not an excuse not to try,” President Obama said.
The president has threatened to use his executive order in the past concerning gun control laws after failed attempts by Congress to pass proposals for gun safety. During the press conference, President Obama commended the bravery of former Congresswoman Gabby Giffords who was shot in a Tucson, Arizona supermarket five years ago. While Gabby Giffords survived her attack, the U.S. sees “more than 30,000 American lives cut short by guns,” the president assured.
The president also cited the Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston, South Carolina last summer in which nine were killed and one was injured including South Carolina State Senator and Emanuel AME Church Reverend Clementa Pinckney. Another victim, Rev. Daniel Simmons had ties to the Hampton Roads area and the Norfolk State community.