It’s way too early to shout “hallelujah!” But finally it seems that an American president is ready to put the full force of his office behind changing the national gun policy that has produced one insane atrocity after another.
Barack Obama’s announcement that he has given Vice President Joe Biden one month to come up with a formula of action to curtail the proliferation of battlefield assault rifles and ammunition for them produces a ray of hope too long missing in our increasingly violent culture.
It is too bad that he had to wait until the death of 20 little children and six of their brave protectors to get religion on this subject. But in defense of his own seeming tardiness on the issue during the first four years of his tenure, he listed a number of other subjects that have kept him busy. Not mentioned but high up on that list was his obvious concern about taking on the powerful gun lobby during an election year. Al Gore did that and lost his home state of Tennessee and the presidency 12 years ago. That object lesson has not been lost on Obama and every other politician.
To his credit, however, the president seems willing now with no concern about re-election to capture and hold this moment of national outrage and grief to bring some sanity into a society that often seems to revere weapons of mass destruction over nearly anything else. It is a huge task, but one for which he can only be admired even if he was late to the conclusion that this, above all, is a priority.
The plan seems to be for Biden to produce a policy initiative to be outlined during Obama’s State of the Union address after consulting with the Cabinet and outside interests — governors, mayors, members of Congress and presumably even those who advocate no gun restrictions whatsoever, including the National Rifle Association, which has been the scourge of gun opponents in and out of the national and state legislatures. After several days of clearly stunned silence, the NRA has expressed a willingness to discuss preventive measures.