January 17, 2013
Barak Obama has challenged America's deeply ingrained gun culture by announcing a modest set of proposals to ban automatic weapons, limit magazines to 10 bullets, introduce universal background checks for all firearms buyers and increase scrutiny of mental health patients. It is pretty much a tougher version of the 1994 law introduced by Bill Clinton that banned automatic- and semi-automatic weapons.
Obama also signed 23 executive orders that will take immediate effect and do not require Congressional approval. These include bypassing a congressional ban on research into any possible links between violence and video games.
No doubt those Republicans who do outrage for a living will oppose the legislation---they will “nullify” federal gun legislation. Their rhetoric will be that if you’re going to impose a brutal authoritarian regime on your populace, then the first step is to disarm them first so they can’t fight back. The NRA 's position is that it exists to protect America's gun rights. The NRA's slogan is that "the only thing that stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun."
The Republicans, who are almost unanimously opposed to gun restrictions, control the House of Representatives. But the red state Senate Democrats are also opposed to gun restrictions. So the Obama administration aims to start a mass mobilisation campaign to put pressure on members of Congress. The assumption here is that the Newtown shootings has changed the political environment.
Maybe something will pass Congress. Maybe. Legislation to seriously tighten up background checks perhaps? An assault-weapon ban is probably a political bridge too far for the US.