Executive Actions Justified

Letter, Daily Local news, 1/12/16

The reactions of both sides of the aisle in Congress was so predictable–the vast majority of Democrats supportive, and the vast majority of Republicans against President Obama’s bold executive actions taken to reduce gun violence. Most Americans are sick and tired of the barrage of mass shootings (over 300 in 2015), school shootings (over 100 since Sandy Hook) and the inner city gun violence that plague our great nation. As has been mentioned before, there is no safe place, as even bucolic West Chester suffered a gun murder in its city limits this past year. Most Americans feel the ‘fierce urgency of Now’ in doing something to reduce the carnage.

What to do when Congress won’t act? Executive actions are justified in two cases:

1. To clarify and extend existing laws in making them more effective.
2. When there is a national crisis, like war, epidemic, natural disaster, or in this case,
a national health and safety crisis: 33,000 Americans killed by guns every year.

The executive actions announced pass both of these tests. That is the case with extending
background checks to those who buy and sell guns for a profit, but never were set up as federally licensed gun dealers. Many internet sales, and gun show sales happen without background checks this way.These part timers need to be defined and credentialed as ‘federally licensed gun dealers who must by law perform background checks on their customers, thereby using an existing law to plug up some loopholes in the Background Check system.  In addition, you could say America is in the midst of a mental health crisis, with mass shootings being a symptom. The proposed $500,000 to strengthen mental health should appeal to the Republicans, who often decry Mental Health whenever there is a mass shooting. Can the Republicans and Dems work together on this issue? Not likely, but here is hoping that the executive actions proposed by President Obama this week is a strong headwind in the growing tipping point for making serious progress to save lives. Let’s see Congress eventually getting  on board and doing their job to also help protect Americans with safer gun laws. The nation can’t wait any longer.

Tom Buglio
Chester County Coalition to Prevent Gun Violence

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